If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer of the colon or rectum it can be frightening, to say the least. Many times, if the cancer is caught in its early stages patients haven’t experienced any symptoms, making the diagnosis utterly shocking. But you can be reassured that the most progressive treatment options and most experienced surgeons are available right here as a part of the Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute HCA Midwest Health.

The Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute HCA Midwest Health is known through the Kansas City area for comprehensive and cutting-edge cancer treatments close to home. A dedicated cross-disciplinary team of colorectal surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, genetics counselors, clinical trial specialists, doctors and clinicians work together to ensure every patient has a care plan built specifically for them with the quickest time to treatment possible.

Colon Cancer Surgery Procedures

Surgery is the most common type of treatment for colorectal cancer, stages zero through three. It may also be an option for stage four if the tumor is blocking the bowel. Types of surgery may include:

  • Polypectomy – Is usually used for stage zero and early stage one. The tumor is removed as a part of the polyp during a colonoscopy
  • Local excision – Removes cancer on the surface of the colon wall along with a small amount of nearby tissue. It can be done during a colonoscopy and is used for stage zero and early stage one colon cancer
  • Partial colectomy – Removes the part of the colon that is infected. Can be performed with one long incision or several smaller incisions and a thin lighted tube with a camera
  • Total colectomy – Removes the entire colon

Colon Cancer Surgery Methods

If a polyp is too large to be removed during a colonoscopy or if the cancer has progressed, there are various methods for surgery that can be used. The method of surgery has a lot to do with your surgeon’s expertise and experience with that approach. It is very important that you are comfortable with your surgeon and your surgeon is comfortable with the method of surgery.

  • Open Surgery – surgery is performed through an incision in the abdomen. If the surgeon has to work in different parts of the abdomen your incision will become larger
  • Laparoscopic – a minimally invasive approach that uses several smaller incisions special surgical instruments and a thin, lighted tube with a camera that helps the surgeon see inside the abdomen
  • Robotic-Assisted – a cutting-edge, minimally invasive method of surgery where a surgeon uses the da Vinci® robot for better visualization and greater precision, control and access to hard-to-reach areas

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Minimally Invasive Robotic-Assisted Surgery

Renowned for their expertise in robotics, HCA Midwest Health’s colorectal program features some of the country’s best colorectal surgeons. Many of our surgeons were early-adopters of this technology and have performed hundreds of successful robotic colorectal operations. Our surgeons educate and set expectations upfront so that they can partner with their patients and help them make the treatment decisions that work best for them.

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The Benefits

Robotic surgery is the leading minimally invasive approach currently available. Its benefits include:

  • Less pain
  • A shorter hospital stay
  • Quicker return of bowl function
  • Quicker return to normal life
  • Minimal scaring
  • Reduced chance of a permanent colostomy bag

Patients will have four, eight-millimeter incisions (for the robotic arms) and one four-centimeter incision (the extraction site). After a while, it can be difficult to find the four small incisions. On women, the robotic surgeon is able to place the four-centimeter incision below the bikini line for a more cosmetically pleasing result with less pain and less chance of hernia.

In rectal cancer patients, the robotic approach can be particularly beneficial when compared to other surgical methods. The accuracy, visibility and maneuverability of the robot can allow the surgeon to get lower beneath the tumor possibly avoiding the patient having a permanent colostomy bag.

Robotic colorectal surgery can also be used to treat patients with diverticulitis, crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and other conditions requiring surgery on the colon or rectum.

Learn more about minimally invasive robotic surgery from one of the country’s leading colorectal surgeons:

Other Colon Cancer Treatment Options

Depending on your stage of cancer or the location of the tumor, non-surgical treatment methods may be used independently or in conjunction with surgery.

  • Radiofrequency ablation – Typically used when the cancer has spread to other organs. It uses high-energy radio waves to kill tumors
  • Cryosurgery – Uses extreme cold to destroy infected tissue
  • Radiation therapy – High-energy rays to destroy cancer cells
  • Chemotherapy – Injectable drugs used to destroy cancer
  • Targeted therapy – Chemotherapy drugs that are specifically formulated to target specific cell changes
  • Clinical trials – Provides patients with access to new therapies that are currently under investigation

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Learn about how clinical trials can help you or your loved one:

Patient Navigation

Navigating cancer treatment can be overwhelming for patients and their loved ones. At the Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute HCA Midwest Health patients with stage 3 and 4 colon cancer are offered a dedicated nurse navigator. A nurse navigator is a registered nurse who specialize in gastrointestinal cancers. They will act as support and help guide patients and their family through the cancer journey – from discovery to recovery.

Learn more about how a nurse navigator can help you or your loved one:

Colon Cancer Stages

If you are diagnosed with colon cancer, your doctor will identify your current cancer stage. Cancer stages are a way of describing how much cancer is in the body. The stage can be one of the most important factors for doctors when recommending a treatment method.

0 This is an extremely early stage. The stage is also called carcinoma in situ. Abnormal cells are found only on the surface layer of the colon wall
1 This is an early stage. Cancerous cells have been found in the muscular layer of the colon wall
2 Cancer has spread through the muscle layer of the colon wall to the outermost layer of the colon wall
3 Cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes
4 This is an advanced stage. Cancer has spread beyond the colon to other parts of the body, most often the liver and lungs