Colorectal Cancer a Different Look at Treatments

Colorectal cancerVanderbilt graduate and oncologist Dr. John Moody spoke about colorectal cancer on Fox8 House Call late last month. Non-surgical therapies, such as radiation and chemotherapy, are often used in combination to reduce the size of the diagnosed tumor prior to surgery. There are many more different forms of treatment of colorectal cancer that require another look.

Advancements in the fields of radiation and chemotherapy have come a long way. Oncologists at Cone Health Cancer Center have been treating liver tumors with an advanced technique of therapy called stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT).

Colorectal cancer and other forms of gastrointestinal (GI) cancer can be very complex, so treatment should be “individualized” for every patient. The Cone Health Cancer Center organizes weekly meetings with professionals across varying fields of practice.

The National Cancer Institute describes the colon as a part of the digestive system that removes minerals, nutrients and carbohydrates from foods for the body to process. The colon (or large bowel) consists of the first six feet of the large intestine.

One form of colon cancer is considered the gastrointestinal stromal tumor. This type of cancer may or may not be malignant, and it can be found in the stomach or small intestine as well. Genetics can play a role in the development of these tumors. Neurofibromatosis type 1 and Carney triad syndromes are genetic links that might influence a person’s susceptibility to GI cancer.

Symptoms of colon cancer can include fatigue, shortness of breath, weakness, bloody stool, diarrhea or constipation, abdominal pain, weight loss, spastic colon, peptic ulcers, Crohn’s disease and diverticulitis. Dr. Francis W. Nugent says colorectal cancer can be present for several years before these symptoms become known to the patient. The signs and symptoms also vary depending on the location of the tumor.

The Cancer Treatment Centers of America offer a wide variety of integrative medical treatments for patients, incorporating mind and body healing. They claim to have the most advanced treatment options and technology that is currently available. A common form of treatment includes targeted therapy, which blocks the growth and spread of the cancer at its location. Chemotherapy, on the other hand, is known to affect all cells in the human body. This form of treatment has many researchers looking into the different targeting therapies for colorectal cancer.

One drug for this type of therapy is called monoclonal antibody therapy, which is a “targeting drug” used for colorectal cancer treatment. These antibodies are bioengineered proteins that help the body’s natural immune system recognize and attack colorectal cancer cells. This antibody can be used alone or in combination with chemotherapy.

Another advancement in the field is considered to be immunotherapy. Researchers have studied vaccines for cancer and prevention for many years. In the field of colorectal cancer, immunotherapy is studied in an attempt to boost the patient’s immune system to fight the cancer much more effectively. One of these vaccines removes some of the patient’s immune cells, called dendritic cells, adding the collection to a sample of the vaccine and reinjecting it into the patient.

On the other end of the spectrum is natural or alternative medicine. Colon cancer is considered preventable in alternative medicine because of how effective preventative measures can impact a person’s future. One can take the initiative and eat less red meat, eat more garlic and combine several antioxidants to daily meals.

Colorful fruits, vegetables and herbs can play an important role in colorectal cancer prevention. Deeply pigmented foods that usually have antioxidant properties include cranberries, blueberries, pomegranates, carrots, kale, broccoli, spinach and red cabbage.

It is also beneficial to use olive oil in food preparation because this ingredient is known to reduce acidic bile and increase enzymes that regulate cell turnover. Ginseng tea, omega 3, and spices (such as thyme, turmeric, sage, rosemary and peppermint) are claimed to inhibit the growth of cancer cells in the colon. So if chemotherapy and radiation are of concern, one can look into different forms of treatment available for colorectal cancer.

By Lindsey Alexander


Doctor Lanini

American Cancer Society 

Cancer Treatment Centers of America


National Cancer Institute 

Fox8 House Call

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