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Treating Colorectal Cancer

The primary treatment for cancers of the colon and rectum is surgery. For cancers that have not spread, surgery alone may cure your cancer.

  • Depending on the location and stage of your cancer, your doctor may recommend chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy either before or after surgery.
  • For rectal cancer, radiation is usually given with chemotherapy. It can be given before surgery (called preoperative or neoadjuvant therapy) or after surgery (called postoperative or adjuvant therapy). Depending on the location and stage of your tumor, preoperative therapy may allow the surgeon to spare your anal sphincter. This would avoid the need for a permanent colostomy and may reduce the chance of the cancer coming back.