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Colorectal cancer treatment options

Physician case review

Our multidisciplinary cancer care conferences review complex cases to provide an expert "second opinion" on diagnosis, pre-treatment evaluation, staging, treatment strategy and rehabilitation. The team includes medical oncologists, pathologists, radiation oncologists, radiologists, surgeons, nurses, research coordinators and other cancer care staff.

Treatment options

Specific treatment for a cancer of the colon or rectum is based on a number of factors (such as location and type). In general, there are three treatment approaches:


Surgery is the most common first treatment for colon cancer, and one which helps to determine the stage (extent) of the cancer as well. Many colorectal cancer patients are candidates for minimally invasive surgery. Learn more about surgery.


The use of chemotherapy drugs is dependent on the type and stage of a patient's cancer as well as the overall health of the patient. The decision for chemotherapy in colon cancer is usually made after surgery, when the final stage of the cancer is known. For rectal cancer, chemotherapy is often given along with radiation treatment, before surgery to remove the tumor. Anal cancer is usually treated only with chemotherapy and radiation. Learn more about chemotherapy.

Radiation therapy

Radiation is a possible option for the treatment of rectal cancer, radiation therapy is often given in conjunction with surgery and/or chemotherapy. This approach is also called radiation oncology. If the cancer has spread (metastasized) beyond the colon or rectum, treatment will depend on the location of the tumors and the patient's prior treatment. Learn more about radiation therapy