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Facts about colon cancer
The Tucker Gosnell Center for Gastrointestinal Cancers offers a collaborative and caring approach to the diagnosis and treatment of patients with confirmed or suspected colorectal cancer. Consistently ranked as one of the best in the country by U.S. News & World Report, we provide the latest, most effective treatments including many innovative approaches to clinical care and promising new therapies, including:
Precise diagnosis, tumor characterization and staging (determining whether the cancer has spread) are the basis for designing the most appropriate treatment plan for you. Our GI cancer pathologists sub-specialize in colorectal tumors and are internationally recognized and consulted on the diagnosis of colon and rectal cancer. They participate in weekly tumor board meetings, sharing information about each patient’s unique cancer with the entire care team to help guide treatment planning.
All members of our diagnostic radiology team are nationally recognized for expertise in using the most advanced imaging tools to diagnose and stage colorectal cancer and to detect tumor changes. Our imaging technologies include:
Other services include:
For many patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer, chemotherapy may be the most effective treatment. Some new therapies that are currently available or in development are designed to block mutations and pathways that cause tumor cells to proliferate. By targeting tumor gene mutations with these “smart drugs”, our doctors are beginning to understand how to eradicate malignant cells in some patients' tumors without using standard chemotherapy and radiation. Learn more about genetic testing and targeted therapies.
Our surgical team provides state-of-the-art evaluation, treatment and post-surgical services. The primary treatment for colorectal cancer is an operation called a colon resection, in which the cancer and nearby lymph nodes are removed. We are pioneers in leading-edge colorectal surgical procedures, including sphincter-sparing rectal cancer surgery, an innovative procedure that helps avoid permanent colostomies. Our surgeons have extensive experience performing these advanced procedures, which makes us a major referral center for complex medical and surgical issues.
Our colorectal cancer surgeons have pioneered many now-standard procedures and minimally invasive surgical techniques that aid in rapid recovery and nerve preservation so patients often can retain normal organ function. We recently performed the world’s first NOTES resection (Natural Orifice Translumenal Endoscopic Surgery) of a rectal cancer that avoided the need for any incisions. Our surgeons’ advanced laparoscopic skills, combined with their extensive experience, make each patient’s needs the key factor in choosing the best approach. We offer one of the few operating rooms specially designed to facilitate complex procedures, allowing surgeons to work side-by-side with multiple surgical subspecialists.
Learn more about colorectal cancer surgery.
Our radiation oncologists use the most advanced therapies to treat colorectal cancer, many of which are available at only a few select hospitals. Radiation therapy may be given alone, or in combination with surgery and chemotherapy. Depending on the nature of a patient’s cancer, our team may suggest:
Our research program in colon and rectal cancer is a multi-faceted effort designed to better understand cancer biology, discover new therapies and improve treatment. The research program in colorectal and all GI cancers is one of New England’s largest, allowing us to bring promising new treatments to patients as quickly as possible. Learn more about our colorectal cancer research.
Our team approach ensures that every patient benefits from an individualized, coordinated and compassionate treatment plan, with care provided by leading experts from many specialties. We consider patients and their family and friends involved in their care to be part of this team. We are dedicated to ensuring that patients fully understand their diagnosis and treatment options. Depending on the stage and other characteristics of your colorectal cancer, your treatment plan may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or a combination of these therapies. Your care team may include:
Members of your care team communicate regularly with you and your referring physician to ensure clear understanding and seamless coordination of care.
Colon Cancer Treatment Process
The Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center offers a collaborative and caring approach to diagnosis and treatment of patients with confirmed or suspected colon cancer. Your access nurse will guide you through the process.
Learn more about risks and screening.
Learn more about the genetic risks associated with colorectal cancer.
Learn more about colorectal cancer surgery.
The Cancer Center is a leading provider of clinical trails in New England for colorectal cancers, making clinical trial evaluation of new therapies a key treatment option. The goal of clinical trials is to seek and answer scientific questions and to find better ways to prevent, diagnose or treat cancer. Current clinical trials for colorectal cancer include:
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