Colorectal Cancer

Frequently Asked Questions

15. What types of surgery are available for someone with colorectal cancer?

Several types of surgery are available for someone with colorectal cancer. If the cancer is found at a very early stage, the doctor may remove it without cutting through the abdominal wall. Instead, the doctor may put a tube up the rectum into the colon and cut the cancer out. This is called a local excision.

If the cancer is found in a polyp, which is a small bulging piece of tissue, the operation is called a polypectomy.

If the cancer is larger, the surgeon will remove the cancer and a small amount of healthy tissue around it. This is called a colectomy. The surgeon may then sew the healthy parts of the colon together. Usually, the surgeon will also remove lymph nodes near the colon and examine them under a microscope to see whether they contain cancer.

If the doctor is not able to sew the two ends of the colon back together, an opening called a stoma is made on the abdomen for waste to pass out of the body before it reaches the rectum. This procedure is called a colostomy.

Sometimes the colostomy is needed only until the lower colon has healed, and then it can be reversed. But if the doctor needs to remove the entire lower colon, the colostomy may be permanent.