Professor MD Wolfgang Hoffmann
The colon is sometimes called the large intestine as it is the longest part of the section gastrointestinal tract. After the food waste digested in the stomach and small intestine, it comes to the colon where stool is formed. The length of the colon is 1.8 m.
The colon consists of four parts:
You may need colon surgery to treat many intestinal diseases. The most common indications are:
Colectomy, or colon resection, is one of the most common surgical procedures for colon. Mostly a partial colectomy is performed but some conditions may require total removal of the colon (e.g. familial polyposis). With partial colectomy, or segmental resection, only a portion of the bowel is removed together with the tumor or ulcers.
Colectomy can be done by two methods:
Open surgery involves making a large 20-25b cm incision in the abdomen while laparoscopic surgery require a few “keyhole” cuts to introduce a camera and surgical tools. There are many various consideration for choosing the method, so only a professional team of surgeons can decide what kind of surgery to prefer based on your diagnosis, location of the problem part and related factors.
Colon cancer is often also referred as colorectal cancer what is not quite right as it also includes rectum cancer. But the problems of the colon and rectum are similar and that is the reason to unite them. Colorectal cancer is a number three in a row of the most deadly cancerous diseases after lung cancer and liver cancer. Women have higher risk of cancer of the colon than men.
The most of colon cancers are adenocarcinomas that develop from polyps. That is the reason to remove any neoplasm found in the intestine to prevent them turning into cancer. For early detection of the colon cancer the procedure of colonoscopy is performed.
Colonoscopy is done under general anesthesia. Colonoscope, a thin flexible tube is introduced into the anus to examine inside the bowels. Images from small camera are passed to the monitor where an examiner can view what happens and, if any lesions are found, to remove them immediately.
While colonoscopy is treatment for stage 0 or stage 1 of colon cancer, colectomy surgery mentioned above is applied to remove colon cancer from early till moderate degree. With laparoscopic approach 4-5 small incision is done and miniature tools introduced trough the long tubes together with a laparoscope, an optical device. A surgeon operates viewing the situation on the monitor. The part of the colon with cancer is removed as well a small portion of the healthy tissue at another end of the bowel and, then, the ends are attached together. Performing this procedure through the “keyhole” requires of high expertise from surgeon and not advised to every patient.
In advanced stages of colon cancer when the tumor may block intestinal lumen it can be decided to perform colostomy. This surgery involves cutting the colon without removing the tumor. A healthy end of the colon is pulled out through a stoma, a hole made in the skin of the abdomen, and attached to the colostomy bag where the waste is gathered.
Depending on the type of operation recovery after colon cancer surgery can take different time. Mostly you may expect to be discharged from a hospital in 3-7 days. With laparoscopic surgery duration of stay in the hospital is minimal if you have not any complications. In any case you will go through the next steps:
Trying drinking or eating first time you may have nausea or vomiting. You should not feel disturbed as it is normal side effect of colon cancer surgery and it will pass soon. Some patients experience diarrhea or constipation, it is also possible. Your bowels need time to adapt to new situation.
In Cancer Center of Braunschweig we offer comprehensive service for colon cancer. You will find the best colon surgeons among our staff with experience both in open and laparoscopic surgery. Sometimes we can advise colon cancer treatment without surgery as chemotherapy or radiology. Examining your case we involve specialist from Radiology Department, General Surgery Clinic and others. We always consider better treatment based on patient’s situation.