In the unfortunate event that colon cancer is found in your colon on the exam, there are still options. The success of these options all depend on how early the cancer was detected, obviously the earlier the better. Most cancers, if caught in time, are still curable.
Once someone is diagnosed with colon cancer several things will happen. First, the cancer will be staged. What time means is, through a combination of biopsy, lab work and radiology studies I will determine if the cancer is localized (contained within that section of the colon only) or metastatic (has advanced through the wall of the colon into the blood supply, lymphatics or tissues beyond the colon). The majority of the time when colon cancer is detected early and is still localized it can be cured by surgical resection. During surgical resection, the colorectal surgeon will cut out the diseased section of the colon, many times laparoscopically, and then hook the colon back together without the need for an ostomy bag. You are then put on a surveillance program with colonoscopy to watch for recurrence.
If the colon cancer has already spread beyond the wall of the colon (metastatic) then treatment is more involved. Treatment for this is usually a combination of surgery to remove the disease section of colon and chemotherapy with radiation. The types of chemotherapy and decisions on which we use are beyond the scope of this blog but I want you to understand that the types of chemotherapy medications we have and the success of those medications have gotten a lot better over time.