Surgical Options for Colorectal Cancer

A graduate of the surgical oncology fellowship program at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York, Dr. Rajiv Datta has built an in-depth knowledge of surgical treatments for various cancers. Now chair of the surgery department of South Nassau Community Hospital and director of the hospital’s surgical oncology division, Dr. Rajiv Datta oversees and performs numerous colorectal cancer surgeries.

A surgeon treating a patient with colorectal cancer may recommend one of a number of possible procedures; the choice depends on the location, size, and type of cancer. Earlier stage cancers may require a simple polypectomy, in which the surgeon cuts off the stem of the polyp to remove the cancer inside. In some cases, however, the surgeon will also need to remove nearby tissue to ensure complete excision.

More advanced cancers may require a colectomy, or removal of part or all of the colon. Many such procedures, including the standard partial colectomy, permit the surgeon to preserve the sphincter tissue and thus allow the patient to continue normal bowel habits. If treatment of the patient’s cancer requires removal of the anus, however, the patient may need a colostomy to divert stool.

In some patients, removal of the entire large intestine may be indicated. Uncommon in contemporary medicine, it is most often performed when the noncancerous part of the patient’s colon is diseased. Although many such surgeries do require a colostomy, there are procedures where small intestine can be attached to the anal sphincter, so that the patient can eliminate stool as he or she did before the surgery.