Surgery for cancer in the colon
The most common type of surgery for colon cancer is a colectomy (removal of a part of the colon). Lymph nodes near the cancer and some normal bowel around the cancer are also removed.
The surgeon usually cuts the bowel on either side of the cancer (with a small border of healthy tissue called the margin) and then joins the 2 ends of the bowel back together. This join is called an anastomosis.
Having a stoma
Sometimes one end of the bowel is brought through an opening made in your abdomen and stitched onto the skin. The opening – called a stoma – allows faeces (stools or poo) to be collected in a bag. The stoma is usually temporary, and the operation is reversed later. In some cases, the stoma is permanent. Improved surgical techniques mean fewer people need a permanent stoma. Learn more about stomas.
Types of colectomies
There are different types of colectomies depending on which part of the colon is removed. The surgery may be done as open or keyhole surgery.
Right hemicolectomyThe right side of the colon is removed.
Left hemicolectomyThe left side of the colon is removed.
Sigmoid colectomyThe sigmoid colon is removed.
Subtotal or total colectomyMost or all of the colon is removed.
ProctocolectomyAll of the colon and the rectum are removed.
Podcast: Making Treatment Decisions
A/Prof David A Clark, Senior Colorectal Surgeon, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, QLD, The University of Queensland and The University of Sydney; Yvette Adams, Consumer; Dr Cameron Bell, Gastroenterologist, Royal North Shore Hospital, NSW; Katie Benton, Advanced Dietitian Cancer Care, Sunshine Coast University Hospital and Queensland Health, QLD; John Clements, Consumer; Dr Fiona Day, Medical Oncologist, Calvary Mater Newcastle, NSW; Alana Fitzgibbon, Clinical Nurse Consultant, GastroIntestinal Cancers, Cancer Services, Royal Hobart Hospital, TAS; Prof Alexander Heriot, Consultant Colorectal Surgeon, Director Cancer Surgery, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, and Director, Lower GI Tumour Stream, Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre, VIC; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Dr Kirsten van Gysen, Radiation Oncologist, Nepean Cancer Care Centre, NSW.
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