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Surgery for Colon cancer

How is colon cancer surgery done?

Colon surgery or a colectomy is done when a tumour is present in the colon. Dr. Noorbhai will work in conjunction with the rest of your oncology team. Depending on how far the cancer has spread you may have surgery in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiation. Depending on the stage of cancer, you may have one of the following surgeries:

  • Partial colectomy – this surgery involves part of the colon being removed to rid the colon of cancer. The remaining part of the colon is then reconnected. The lymph nodes near the colon may also be removed during this surgery.
  • Colectomy – this surgery is done either through open surgery or laparoscopically to remove the entire colon. This is not often done for colon cancer but rather for the treatment of polyps or inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Polypectomy – also known as a local excision – for early stages of colon cancer, a colonoscopy is used to laparoscopically to cut and remove the tumour from the polyp in the colon.

Why would this surgery be done?

Colon surgery is done to remove a cancerous tumour from the colon. Which type of surgery will depend on the stage of cancer you have been diagnosed with and the location of the tumour. If you have been diagnosed with cancer, chemotherapy and radiation may be advised in combination with surgery and therefore a plan should be discussed with your oncologist and Dr. Noorbhai. This surgery may also be done for palliative reasons as a way of reducing pain and suffering due to the symptoms of cancer.

How long will I be in hospital?

Most patients are able to go home after 14 days of observation in the hospital. How soon you will be discharged from hospital depends on whether you are able to drink liquids when waking up, how much pain you have and whether you have someone to look after you at home. If you have had a colostomy and stoma implanted, you may require longer time in observation.

What will happen after colon cancer surgery?

For a few days after surgery, you will not be able to eat anything and will remain on a liquid diet until your colon has healed. You may experience pain after surgery, however Dr. Noorbhai will try make you as comfortable as possible. You will be monitored in hospital for the next two weeks.

If the entire colon is removed, or for some other reason the two ends of the colon cannot be sewn together, a colostomy will have to be done. This involves an opening (a stoma) being made outside the abdomen and a bag is attached. This is done so that waste can be passed into the attached bag. Once you are healthier, this colostomy can be reversed and the two ends of the colon can be reattached to one another, or to the small intestine. Rarely the colostomy is permanent.

How soon after the surgery can I resume normal activities?

You will be able to resume normal after surgery within the next 6 weeks. 

What are the potential risks and complications of colon cancer surgery?

The risk of complications during open surgery include:

  • Infection of the wound or internal infection.
  • Scar tissue may form on the colon and intestinal organs causing twisting and blockages.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Gastrointestinal leak may cause infection and further surgery may be required.
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or blood clots.
  • Risks from general anaesthetic.
  • Colostomy or ileostomy may be needed which requires drastic lifestyle changes.
endoscopic and-laparoscopic surgery
endoscopic and-laparoscopic procedures

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