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Colon Cancer Treatment

Our Treatment Approach

A team of MD Anderson experts focuses incredible expertise and experience on each patient with colon cancer. Your comprehensive care is customized to provide the most-effective, least-invasive treatment, while helping you keep the best possible quality of life.

Your colon cancer treatment team may include:

  • Oncologists
  • Surgeons
  • Radiation oncologists
  • Gastroenterologists
  • Genetics specialists
  • Diagnostic and interventional radiologists
  • Gynecologists

In addition, a specialized surgical team works with patients whose colon cancer has spread. Specially trained nurses, ostomy nurses, nutritionists and social workers support your treating physicians.

Advanced treatment options, including minimally invasive surgical techniques, targeted therapies and proton therapy are available to help many patients with colon cancer. A specialized surgical team treats patients with colon cancer that has spread.

Advanced genetic testing allows us to customize your treatment for the best possible results. Testing also helps find out if you or your family members may be at risk for other cancers.

Our experts have special expertise in treating rare hereditary types of colorectal cancer, as well as colon cancer that has metastasized (spread) to other parts of the body or has returned after treatment.

If you have been diagnosed with colon cancer, we’re here to help. Call 1-877-632-6789 to make an appointment or request an appointment online.

Why Choose MD Anderson?

  • Advanced colon cancer treatments, including minimally invasive surgery, novel chemotherapies and targeted therapies
  • Proton therapy and intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
  • Leading-edge diagnostic and therapeutic endoscopy including endoscopic ultrasound, endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) and endoluminal stent placement
  • Noninvasive virtual colonoscopy, which we helped pioneer
  • Clinical trials for all stages and types of colon cancer

Colon Cancer Knowledge Center

Treatment at MD Anderson

Colon cancer is treated in our:

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Our Colon Cancer Treatments

George Chang, M.D., FACS, is an expert at using minimally invasive robotic surgery 
to treat colon cancer.

If you have colon cancer, your care at MD Anderson may include one or more of the following therapies.


Surgery is the most common treatment for colon cancer, especially if it has not spread. As for many cancers, surgery for colon cancer is most successful when done by a surgeon with a great deal of experience in the procedure. MD Anderson surgeons are among the most experienced in the nation.

Colon cancer may be treated with surgery alone, surgery and chemotherapy, and/or other treatments. Chemotherapy or radiation may be given:

  • Before surgery to make the cancer smaller. This is called neoadjuvant therapy.
  • After surgery to help keep you cancer free. This is called adjuvant therapy.

The type of surgery depends on the stage and location of the tumor:

Polypectomy: A colonoscope, which is a long tube with a camera on the end, is inserted into the rectum and guided to the polyp. A tiny, scissor-like tool or wire loop removes the polyp.

Colectomy: The area of the colon where the cancer is, along with some healthy surrounding tissue, is removed. The associated lymph nodes are removed (biopsied) and looked at under a microscope. Usually the surgeon then rejoins the parts of the colon. This surgery also is called a hemicolectomy or partial colectomy.

Your doctor will decide whether it is best to perform traditional open surgery or minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery. Sometimes the surgical robot (da Vinci®) may be used for minimally invasive surgery. MD Anderson surgeons are among the most experienced in the nation in minimally invasive surgery to treat colon cancer.

During minimally invasive surgery, small cuts are made in the abdomen. A tiny camera and surgical instruments are inserted. The surgeon then uses video imaging to perform the surgery.

Endoscopic Mucosal Resection (EMR) may be used if the cancer is small and only on the surface of the colon. A needle is placed in the colon wall, and then saline (saltwater) is injected to make a bubble under the growth. Using suction, the lesion is removed.

Endoluminal stent placement: This minimally invasive procedure uses an endoscope to place expanding metal stents to help relieve a bowel obstruction.


MD Anderson offers the most up-to-date and effective chemotherapy options for colon cancer. Drugs are given by mouth (pills) or intravenously (injected into a vein).

Chemotherapy may be used to help:

  • Shrink the cancer before surgery
  • Keep you cancer free after surgery
  • Prolong life when surgery is not an option

Targeted Therapies

MD Anderson offers targeted therapies for certain types of colon cancer. These innovative new drugs stop the growth of cancer cells by interfering with certain proteins and receptors or blood vessels that supply the tumor with what it needs to grow, survive and spread.

Radiation Therapy

MD Anderson provides the most advanced radiation treatments, including:

  • Brachytherapy: Tiny radioactive seeds are placed in the body close to the tumor
  • 3D-conformal radiation therapy: Several radiation beams are given in the exact shape of the tumor
  • Intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT): Treatment is tailored to the specific shape of the tumor to reduce damage to normal tissue.

Proton Therapy

The Proton Therapy Center at MD Anderson is one of the world’s largest and most advanced centers. It’s the only proton therapy facility in the country located within a comprehensive cancer center. This means this cutting-edge therapy is backed by all the expertise and compassionate care for which MD Anderson is famous.

Proton therapy delivers high radiation doses directly into the tumor, sparing nearby healthy tissue and vital organs. For many patients, this results in better cancer control with fewer side effects.

Our Colon Cancer Clinical Trials

Since MD Anderson is one of the nation’s leading research centers, we offer clinical trials (research studies) of treatments for every type and stage of colon cancer.

To find out more about clinical trials at MD Anderson for colon cancer, visit our Clinical Trials database or speak to your doctor.

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center