What is chemotherapy for colon cancer?

Chemotherapy is a type of treatment that kills cancer cells. It is a drug that is given in a variety of forms such as a pill or an IV. It also kills healthy cells, but those cells often are able to repair themselves. Often times, treatment includes more than one type of chemotherapy drug. As with radiation therapy, not every patient needs chemotherapy.

Why would I choose chemotherapy for colon cancer?

Chemo can be used for several reasons, including to:

  • Shrink the tumors before surgery
  • Kill any leftover cancer cells after surgery
  • Relieve symptoms caused by the cancer

Is chemotherapy the right treatment for my colon cancer?

Any treatment is a personal choice, but chemotherapy can be used to kill cancer cells or prevent them from multiplying in patients whose cancer has returned after surgery.

How long will I have to have chemotherapy for my colon cancer?

Your length of treatment depends on your stage of disease, your treatment goals and how your body responds to the chemotherapy. Your doctor will monitor your body’s response to the treatment with regular physical exams, blood tests and imaging.

What are the side effects of chemotherapy with colon cancer?

Patients respond to chemotherapy in different ways. Not everyone has side effects. The most common side effects from chemo include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hair loss
  • Pain in the hands and feet
  • Mouth and skin changes
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Memory changes
  • Emotional changes

Most side effects end after treatment ends, but some may never go away. Make sure you talk to your doctor about side effects that bother you.

Will I be able to work during my chemotherapy treatment of colon cancer?

Many people are able to keep their normal routine during chemotherapy, but some people need to adjust their schedules. Talk with your employer if you are concerned about your work schedule. This is an important time to take special care of yourself – get extra rest, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and exercise when you can.