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
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.