Colon Cancer

Colon and rectal cancers, often grouped together as colorectal cancer, are similar in many ways but their treatments differ. Colon cancer is very common and occurs in the last 5 feet of your intestine, just before the rectum. Most colon cancers arise in polyps, that can be removed during a colonoscopy before they become cancer.
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Common symptoms of colon cancer include bleeding, abdominal pain, and changes in GI habits. However, many patients do not have any symptoms. Colonoscopy is important in preventing and identifying colon cancers, especially for high-risk individuals or those older than 50 years. Early diagnosis leads to the greatest chance for treatment success.

Our Approach

Surgery is the primary treatment option for colon cancer, and consists of removing a piece of your colon and reconnecting the two sections. Most surgeries can be performed with minimally invasive techniques, offering the benefits of smaller incisions, less pain after surgery, a shorter hospital stay, and faster recovery. Your treatment path will depend on the extent of your cancer. If your colon cancer is advanced, you may need chemotherapy in addition to surgery. We will assemble a multidisciplinary team to care for you, using the most modern therapies and surgical skills available today.

We have a high cure rate for colon cancer that is caught early, and most patients retain their bowel function. Colostomies (“bags”) are generally not required for colon cancer. Even if your colon cancer is advanced, you can be treated successfully with our aggressive treatment approach. For example, if your cancer has spread throughout your abdomen, we use a unique treatment option called hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) to eliminate the majority of microscopic cancer cells that might remain after surgery.

Our physicians are faculty members at the University of Minnesota Medical School and are involved in colorectal cancer research at Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota. Ask your doctor about participating in one of our clinical trials.

Early detection is important and screening tests can help detect colon and rectal polyps before they become cancerous. The American Cancer Society recommends men and women begin colorectal screening at age 50. The University of Minnesota has been a pioneer in the colorectal cancer screening, and our experts are among the region's most respected providers. You should discuss with your healthcare provider the advantages of the different screening tests and how often they should be performed. If you have a parent or a sibling who has had colon cancer or multiple polyps, your healthcare provider may want to screen you at an earlier age and more often.

Treatments, Tests, and Procedures


Chemotherapy is a treatment option for adults or children with cancer using drugs that kill cancer cells. Often simply called “chemo,” chemotherapy is a combination of medications designed to destroy cancer cells, cause remission of your cancer or actually cure the cancer.
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Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC)

Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) is a highly concentrated chemotherapy that is directly administered into the abdominal cavity during the cytoreductive surgery procedure to prevent the cancer from coming back.
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Radiation Oncology

Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to shrink tumors, kill cancer cells, and treat other non-cancerous conditions. Several types of radiation therapy is often used to limit radiation exposure as much as possible while still delivering the optimal outcomes for patients.
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TomoTherapy is a specialized form of radiation delivery that combines radiation therapy with 3D imaging to create more precise targeting of tumors. It works by delivering radiation beams from multiple directions allowing the radiation to match the exact shape of the tumor.
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Genomic Profiling

During the course of your cancer diagnosis and treatment, your physician may order next-generation DNA sequencing. No two cancers are the same. Next-generation DNA sequencing is a test your physician may use to better understand the unique molecular composition of your cancer.
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Immunotherapy is an emerging form of cancer treatment with great promise and limited toxicity. Its goal is to harness the power of the patient’s immune system and use it to fight cancer. Sometimes called biological therapy, it's changing the way we think about cancer treatment.
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Social Work Services for Cancer Patients

M Health Fairview offers Social Work Services for Cancer Patients, and we're committed to providing you with personalized, breakthrough care.
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There may be other treatments, test, and procedures for this diagnosis, including:

  • Open Surgery
  • Minimally Invasive Surgery