Law Office of Joseph A. Hernandez
Colon Cancer Law
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Adjuvant Chemotherapy for Colon Cancer

Although patients who undergo surgery often appear to be cured, approximately a third of these patients will eventually develop the disease again, sometimes months after the surgery, sometimes years. Chemotherapy is generally given to protect against recurrence in patients with tumors in Dukes' Stages B and C. Since the goal of this chemotherapy is to reduce the likelihood of recurrence, it is called adjuvant chemotherapy

Chemotherapy uses cytotoxic drugs - drugs that are toxic to cells - to attack cancer cells. The drugs used in chemotherapy are designed to attack fast growing cells, such as those of colon cancer. Because of this, patients often experience side effects that can include nausea (and vomiting), mouth sores, the thinning or loss of hair, diarrhea, and the shedding of skin in the hands and feet.

The most prevalent drug used for the treatment of colon cancer is Fluorouracil (5-FU). This drug incorporates itself in a cell's normal DNA and, by masquerading as a normal building block, prevents malignant cells from dividing. 5-FU is normally given in conjunction with a second drug to increase effectiveness. The second drug is usually either Levamisole, which is an immunity-stimulating agent, or Leucovorin (folic acid), which binds to the enzymes and makes 5-FU more toxic to cancer cells.

Chemotherapy can be administered intravenously, intramuscularly, orally, or subcutaneously (under the skin). Sometimes, your oncologist and surgeon, may recommend that a portocath, or peripherally inserted central catheter (PIC), be implanted in your body so that the drugs can be administered easily through to catheter, delivering the chemotherapy directly to the bloodstream.

Generally, the treatment period for adjuvant chemotherapy is between 6 months to a year. Chemotherapy normally begins three to five weeks after surgery, to give the patient sufficient time to recover before commencing treatment.

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