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NCCN Guidelines for Patients



Colon Cancer, Version 1.2017


Overview of cancer treatments


Marking isn’t always needed. For example, marking

isn’t done if the cancer site can be easily found.

A colectomy can be done with one of two methods.

The open method removes tissue through a large

cut in your abdomen. The minimally invasive method

involves making a few small cuts. Tools are inserted

through the cuts to see and remove part of your


A colectomy can take 1 to 4 hours to complete. You

may stay in the hospital for several days to recover.

After surgery, you will be told what you can and can’t

eat to prevent discomfort and help healing.


To aid healing, you may have a colostomy, although

most people do not need it. A colostomy connects

a part of the colon to the outside of the abdomen.

This creates an opening in your abdomen. Stool can

pass through the opening. If a colostomy is done,

it is usually for a short period of time. It is rare for a

colostomy not to be removed.


A lymphadenectomy is a surgery that removes lymph

nodes. It is done at the same time as the colectomy.

At least 12 lymph nodes near to the cancer site

should be removed for cancer testing. All nodes that

look abnormal should be removed, too.


Surgery to remove a metastasis is called a

metastasectomy. Not all metastatic disease can be

treated with surgery. The methods of surgery for

metastasectomy vary based on where the cancer

has spread.

Side effects

Side effects are unplanned physical or emotional

reactions to treatment. Surgery causes pain,

swelling, and scars. Pain and swelling often fade

away in the weeks following surgery. Scars from

surgery don’t fully fade away.

As with any surgery, there is a chance of

complications. These include major blood loss,

infection, heart attack, and blood clots. There can

also be injury to nearby organs. Your surgical team

will design care to prevent these risks.

Colectomy may cause certain side effects. Organs

may push through weakened tissue (hernia). Scar

tissue may block the colon. Food may leak out where

the colon was reconnected.

Not all side effects of surgery are listed here. Please

ask your treatment team for a complete list of

common and rare side effects. If a side effect bothers

you, tell your treatment team. There may be ways to

help you feel better.