Stage IV colon cancer is diagnosed when the disease has spread to other parts of the body, even after surgical removal of the original cancer. It can spread to many areas of the body including the lungs, bones, liver, lymph nodes or other areas. It is often believed that patients with Stage IV colon cancer have little to no shot of being cured. However, it is possible for these patients to be treated depending on where the cancer has been spread.
Those with Stage IV Colon Cancer are often split up into two groups; patients with unresectable, or widespread, that cannot be treated and patients whose cancer has grown in just a single area. If a patient falls into the latter category, it is possible for them to receive a targeted treatment specified to that area to help them. However, a majority of those with Stage IV Colon Cancer fall into the first category. In years past, treatments and attempts to cure the area have not been effective. With today’s technology though, there are more chemotherapy drugs along with these specified therapies that are increasing the chances of survival. The following will entail normal colon cancer treatments.
For the longest time, the drug fluorouracil was the basic treatment administered to those with widespread cancer. Fluorouracil, also known as 5-FU, is given along with Leucovorin. Through this combination, the drugs bind together and can stay inside the cell for an extended amount of time, which enhances the anticancer effects for a long time.
In addition to that, the drugs Eloxatin or Camptosar may be used as well. With this theory, experimented with by Italian researchers, it was found that around one third of those patients had an anticancer response to the additional drugs. Those with Eloxatin survived for 15 months and those who were given Camptosar survived for 14 months.
Another treatment for colon cancer is Avastin. Avastin is a targeted therapy that cuts off VEGF. VEGF is a protein that is a big part of the blood vessel producing process. Through this, it takes away nutrients and oxygen from the cancer and limits its growth. Additionally, it is believed that through Avastin, the delivery of chemotherapy to the area will be improved. Avastin is used often in addition to 5-FU. It has been proven that patients treated with chemotherapy and Avastin, lived longer than those who were solely treated with chemotherapy.
Oral chemotherapy is another form of treatment for those with Stage IV Colon Cancer. Xeloda, a pill.
form of 5-FU, is taken orally rather than having an injection to the vein. Xeloda is beneficial, as it produces similar outcomes to 5-FU while allowing patients to be treated from home with the pill.
For those who have had their cancer spread to a single site, there are a few options for treatment. One is surgery. According to the Mayo Clinic, those who select surgery have a chance to live longer. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic, attempted the surgeries on a select number of patients. Five years later, 55% of the patients remained cancer free.
Hepatic Artery Infusion is another option. This route of treatment, directs chemotherapy into the vessel that gives blood to the liver. Like, Avastin, this type of treatment helped those live longer than patients who solely went with chemotherapy.
Radiofrequency ablation is another path of treatment. RFA fights off cancer cells with extreme heat produced by high-frequency radio waves. A more grueling route to go, it does have its benefits with studies showing that patients survived for an average of 28 months.
New drugs and chemotherapy techniques are constantly being developed in hopes of doctors trailing them with patients. Stage IV Colon Cancer is tough to beat, but there are ways of doing it and hopefully, there are more treatments on the way.