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Colon and Rectal Cancer Surgical Options

Treatment of GI and colorectal cancer often requires both surgery and chemotherapy.

Your UPMC Hillman Cancer Center care team may suggest surgery if your cancer is in a confined region of the GI tract.

In some cases, your surgeon may also remove one or more of the nearby lymph nodes.

For larger tumors that your surgeon can still remove by surgery, your team may recommend removal of part of the GI tract, such as the:

  • Stomach
  • Small bowel
  • Another section

These major procedures may affect the way you will be able to eat or eliminate waste.

Types of Surgery for Colorectal and GI Cancer

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center surgeons offer every type of GI and colorectal surgery, including minimally invasive (laparoscopic) techniques to remove cancerous tumors.

Our surgical oncologists have particular expertise in the following:

  • Minimally invasive (laparoscopic) colon resection — small “keyhole” incisions and imaging technologies allow the surgeon to operate using tiny instruments. Smaller cuts heal faster.
  • Sphincter-sparing rectal surgery — treatment of cancer of the lower rectum often results in a permanent stoma (opening in the body). But, recent advancements in surgical techniques make it possible to remove some tumors without altering bodily functions. These techniques include:
    • Coloanal J-pouch — this operation, for advanced rectal cancers located close to the anal sphincter muscles, removes the entire rectum but preserves the anal canal and sphincter muscles. The surgeon forms a pouch from the colon and sews it inside the anal canal to store and pass stool.
    • Local excision — this is the removal of a rectal tumor through the anus, which requires no incisions through the abdomen.
    • Neoadjuvant therapy — this is treatment before surgery to shrink very large or advanced tumors that otherwise would require a colostomy (external opening into the colon from the outside of the body). Therapy consists of radiation and mild chemotherapy on an outpatient basis for about three months before surgery. After neoadjuvant therapy is complete, surgeons wait six weeks to allow the cancer to shrink.
    • Total gastrectomy — surgeons remove the entire stomach and attach the esophagus directly to the small intestine. People who have a gastrectomy have to eat small amounts of food at a time.

Regional Perfusion for Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer that has spread to the peritoneal (abdominal) cavity can be especially hard to treat because it spreads hundreds of tiny seed-like tumors throughout the abdomen.

A regional perfusion technique called hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemoperfusion, or HIPEC, has shown significant promise in the treatment of this challenging cancer.

HIPEC delivers high concentrations of chemo directly to the site of the cancer rather than through the bloodstream.

This treatment heats the chemo and then circulates it through an organ or certain region, bathing the cancer in the medication to treat it.

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center oncologists are leaders in this advanced technique.

Contact Us About Colon, Rectal, and Gastrointestinal Cancer 

To learn more about Colorectal and Gastrointestinal Cancers or to make an appointment, you can: