We know a colon cancer diagnosis can be scary. At Allegheny Health Network Cancer Institute, you are in good hands.
Our highly experienced staff uses the latest technology and techniques to provide you with a comprehensive treatment plan. Our colon cancer specialists use robotic surgery to perform minimally invasive, life-saving procedures. We also offer chemotherapy and clinical trials. Our goal is to destroy the cancer and help you live a full, active life. And our extensive support services provide care for the whole person.
Our specialists work together to determine the best course of treatment for you. No matter the plan, you can expect:
- Expert team: Our seasoned surgeons and radiologists specialize in colon cancer. This focus gives us the skill and experience necessary to find the most effective treatment solution for you.
- Compassionate advocates: A Navigation Team assists you with scheduling appointments, keeping your records up to date, and making your treatment as convenient as possible. We want to lift the burden of logistics so you can focus on getting better.
- Affordable treatment: A separate financial navigator helps you set up payment plans, access government grants, and assist you in making your treatment as economical as possible.
- Pre-surgery and rehab support: Our pre-surgery center offers physical therapy and educational support to make sure you go into the surgery healthy. Our comprehensive rehab facility helps you make a full recovery. Our staff assists with pain management, nutrition counseling, and helps you adjust to any lifestyle changes, such as using a colostomy bag.
At the Cancer Institute, we work with you to find the treatment plan that best meets your needs. We offer a variety of surgery options, including minimally invasive procedures that result in a shorter recovery. We also provide chemotherapy and clinical trials for patients who are eligible. Sometimes surgery alone is enough to cure the cancer, while other times, we use a combination of treatments to be most effective.
Colon cancer surgery
All of our surgeons at the Cancer Institute have extra training in colon cancer. They have dedicated their careers to the study of GI tumors and are highly experienced at performing colon surgery. We are committed to preserving as much of the colon and bowel function as possible.
Because of the new technology that we use, many of the colon cancer surgeries are minimally invasive, outpatient procedures. Some of the surgeries don’t even require an incision. Our advanced surgical options include:
- Polypectomy: In this minimally invasive procedure, the physician guides a tiny, wire loop into the colon to remove any polyps.
- Colectomy (or colon resection): This procedure removes the cancerous area of the colon and nearby lymph nodes. In most cases, the surgeon rejoins the remaining parts of the colon so that bowel function remains. Occasionally, we create a stoma (an opening on the abdomen) for a colostomy bag, which helps you eliminate waste.
- Laparoscopic robotic surgery: This surgery uses tiny instruments and robotic devices to remove the cancerous portion of the colon. Much less invasive than traditional surgery, this procedure reduces recovery time and minimizes pain and scarring.
- Endoscopic mucosal resection: We place a needle into the colon wall and inject a saline solution to form a bubble under the lesion. We then remove the lesion using suction.
- Transanal endoscopic microsurgical resection or transanal minimally invasive surgery (TAMIS): These minimally invasive procedures use specially designed microsurgical instruments. The surgeon removes the cancer through the rectum, eliminating the need for an incision.
- Sphincter-preservation surgery: This advanced reconstructive surgery allows for the removal of tumors without affecting the sphincter, which can avoid the need for a permanent colostomy bag.
Medical oncology for colon cancer
We sometimes combine medical oncology treatments with surgery to get the most effective results. In some cases, you may have these treatments before surgery. We may also use these medications after surgery to reduce the chance of any cancer cells remaining in your body.
Our advanced medical oncology therapies include:
- Chemotherapy: These medications slow the growth of cancer. Because the drugs can also affect healthy cells, you may experience side effects. Our team carefully monitors you during treatment to ease any side effects and to ensure the drugs are as effective as possible.
- Targeted therapy: These drugs specifically target the genes and protein changes in cells that cause cancer, stopping cancer’s growth. Targeted therapy often causes less severe side effects than chemotherapy.
- Immunotherapy: This drug treatment prompts the body’s own immune system to fight the cancer.
- Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC): This is a highly concentrated, heated chemotherapy treatment for late-stage abdominal cancers. Doctors deliver chemotherapy directly to cancer cells in the abdomen during surgery.
Because of the many minimally invasive, outpatient options, our patients frequently resume their normal lives shortly after surgery or chemotherapy. For patients undergoing colon resection, the Cancer Institute offers a comprehensive accelerated recovery program at 10 convenient locations. We also offer specialized oncology rehab services in your own home, if needed, through our Healthcare @ Home service.
Numerous professionals work together to help you understand and feel comfortable with any lifestyle adjustments, such as the use of a colostomy bag. We help you return to a full, active life. Learn more about our rehabilitation program. The team assisting your complete rehabilitation includes:
- Pain management specialists
- Infection control specialists
- Physical therapists
- Ostomy nurses
Call the AHN Cancer Help Line anytime at (412) NURSE-4-U (412) 687-7348 to schedule a cancer-related appointment or to just talk with our nurses about diagnoses, treatments, and side effects.