Colorectal Cancer, Metastatic or Recurrent
Your treatment for metastatic or recurrent colorectal cancer will depend on specific information about the cancer, your preferences, and your health.
Some cases of metastatic or recurrent colorectal cancer can still be cured. When it cannot be cured, treatment can help you feel better and live longer.
Your treatment may include:
- Reference Surgery Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window. If your cancer has come back in your intestine, surgery may be used to remove it. If it has spread to other parts of the body, it can sometimes be treated surgically. Cancer that has spread to the liver is sometimes successfully removed with surgery. For more information, see the Surgery section of this topic.
- Reference Chemotherapy Opens New Window. These medicines kill cancer cells that have spread to other parts of your body. They also can relieve pain caused by the cancer. For more information, see the Medications section of this topic.
- Reference Radiation therapy Opens New Window. X-rays can be used to shrink colorectal tumors that may be causing blockages. They can also reduce bleeding or pain. For more information, see the Other Treatment section of this topic.
- Reference Targeted therapy Opens New Window. This treatment uses medicines called monoclonal antibodies to treat colorectal cancer. It is often given along with chemotherapy. For more information, see the Other Treatment section of this topic.
- Reference Clinical trials Opens New Window. These are studies of new or different ways to treat cancer.
Pain is one of the main concerns of people who have cancer. But cancer pain can almost always be controlled. There are several ways to Reference Reference control your pain, such as using strong medicines like Reference opiates. Or you can have treatments that shrink tumors and block nerve pain.
As your cancer gets worse, you may want to think about Reference palliative care Opens New Window. Palliative care is a kind of care for people who have serious illnesses. It is different than care to cure your illness, called curative treatment. Palliative care focuses on improving your quality of life—not just in your body but also in your mind and spirit.
Palliative care may help you manage symptoms or side effects from treatment. It could also help you cope with your feelings about living with a long-term or terminal illness, make future plans around your medical care, or help your family better understand your illness and how to support you.
If you are interested in palliative care, talk to your doctor. He or she may be able to manage your care or refer you to a doctor who specializes in this type of care.
For more information, see the topic Reference Palliative Care.
There may come a time when treatments to cure your cancer are no longer working. Or you may decide that you want to spend the time you have left in other ways and only have medical care that keeps you comfortable. If so, talk to your doctor about Reference hospice care Opens New Window.
Hospice care is palliative care for people who are at the end of life, with about 6 months or less to live. Hospice caregivers are concerned with enhancing the quality of your remaining life by keeping you as alert and comfortable as possible in a familiar environment with family and friends. Hospice programs offer services in your own home or in a hospice center, nursing home, or hospital.
You may wish to discuss health care and other legal issues that arise near the end of life with your family and your doctor. You may find it helpful and comforting to state your health care choices in writing (with an advance directive or living will) while you are still able to make and communicate these decisions. Think about your treatment options and which kind of treatment will be best for you. You may wish to choose a health care agent in case you become unable to speak for yourself.
Learning all you can about end-of-life issues may help you feel better. For more information, see one of the following topics:
- Reference Care at the End of Life
- Reference Choosing a Health Care Agent
- Reference Writing an Advance Directive
- Reference Hospice Care
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference September 5, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Reference Kenneth Bark, MD - Surgery, Colon and Rectal