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Colon Cancer Guide

Maryann Gromisch RN Guide

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Metastatic Colorectal Cancer

By Joanna Karpasea-Jones
 
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Metastatic colorectal cancer is the most serious stage of colorectal cancer. It is the stage when your colon or rectal cancer have spread to other areas of your body.

If your liver is affected, your whole body can become overwhelmed because the liver cleanses the blood of toxins. Therefore if it has tumors growing inside it, it cannot function properly.

You might also become anaemic, either as a consequence of the illness or as a side-effect of anti-cancer medications you may be having. Many cancer deaths are actually due to complications such as anaemia, rather than the actual cancerous tumors.

What are My Treatment Options?

Surgery alone will not be enough to deal with metastatic cancer. You will be offered radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy to try and kill cancer cells over a wide area.

In some hospitals, biological therapy may also be available. Biological therapy is using medicines to strengthen the immune system so that you can naturally fight cancer with your own body’s defences, for instance, interferon alpha. Some people have weak or abnormal immune systems and are given interferon to help improve their immune response. Biological therapy is still in its infancy and many techniques are still experimental, but your hospital may invite you to participate in a study if you wish to try an experimental technique. It is always your choice and you can stop at any time during a trial if you are uncomfortable or you don’t feel it is helping.

Stopping Anaemia

Deaths from anaemia, due to metastatic cancer, can be reduced to nearly 51 percent in patients.

"There was a significantly reduced risk of rapidly progressive disease for epoetin beta (an anti-anaemia drug),"the British Journal of Cancer said.

And:

"Anaemia is commonly seen in patients with cancer, and may result from malignant disease itself, or from anticancer treatment.... anaemia is also associated with adverse outcomes in cancer, with individual studies showing shortened survival in patients with a variety of malignancies including cancers of the lung, cervix, head and neck, and prostate cancer, as well as lymphoma and multiple myeloma.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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