Your treatment for colorectal cancer that has spread or come back may include:
- Surgery . If cancer
has come back in your intestine or another part of your body, surgery may be used to remove it. To learn more, see Surgery.
- Chemotherapy. These medicines kill cancer cells that have spread to other parts of your body. They also can relieve pain caused by the cancer. To learn more, see
- Radiation therapy. X-rays can be used to shrink colorectal tumors that may be
causing blockages. They can also reduce bleeding or pain. To learn more, see Other Treatment.
- Targeted therapy. This treatment uses medicines called monoclonal antibodies to treat colorectal cancer. It is often given along with chemotherapy. To learn more, see Medications.
- Clinical trials. These are studies of new or different ways
to treat cancer.
Colorectal cancer often comes
back, even after treatment that seemed successful. Your cancer may return even if you do
everything you can to prevent it. If this happens, focus on what you and your
doctor can do to treat your symptoms to help you feel better and live
Your treatment will depend
on specific information about the cancer, your preferences, and your
Some cases can still be cured. When the cancer can't be cured, treatment can help you feel better
and live longer.
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 control your pain, such as using strong medicines like opiates. Or you can have treatments that shrink tumors and block nerve pain.
As your cancer gets worse, you may want to think about palliative care. Palliative care focuses on improving your quality of life—not just in your
body but also in your mind and spirit. It may help you manage symptoms
or side effects from treatment. It can also help with other concerns you may have when you are living with a serious illness, such as making future plans about your medical
care. If you are interested in palliative care, talk to your
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 hospice care.
Hospice care is palliative care for people who are at the end of life, with about 6 months or less to live. Hospice caregivers help to enhance the quality of your remaining life by keeping you as alert and
comfortable as possible in a familiar environment with family and friends.
You may also want to:
- Discuss health care
and other legal issues that arise near the end of life with your family and
- 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.
- Choose a health care agent in case you become unable to speak for
To learn more about supportive care, see: