Goal of Radiation Therapy for Colorectal Cancer
Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation from X-rays or another source to kill cancer cells.
It is a major part of the treatment for rectal cancers. It’s also sometimes used as a treatment for colon cancers. There are several reasons your doctor may recommend this therapy:
To try to shrink a tumor before surgery (for rectal cancer). This may make it easier to remove and will reduce the damage surgery might cause. When it’s used before surgery, it’s called a neoadjuvant therapy.
To try to kill any cancer cells left after surgery. Used after surgery, it’s called an adjuvant therapy. For colon cancer, this may be used if your doctor has removed a cancer that was attached to an organ or to the lining of your abdomen, and the doctor is not sure all the cancer cells were removed.
To ease symptoms caused by tumors that can't be treated with surgery or that have spread to other organs.
Radiation therapy is not a substitute for surgery. Surgery is generally the main treatment for colorectal cancer, except in cases of advanced cancers which cannot be removed with surgery or in people who are not healthy enough for an operation.
To plan your entire treatment strategy, consult with a team of specialists. This might include a surgeon, radiation oncologist, and medical oncologist.