What Happens If I Don’t Treat My Colon Cancer?


The patient sometimes ask me if all of the
treatment is worth it after a diagnosis of colon cancer, so let’s take a moment and talk
about what will happen if you don’t get treated. Although early detection and treatment of
colon cancer is highly curable, stage IV cancer is almost always lethal. Before we have the
newer chemotherapy drugs in the natural course of the disease, we would quote a survival
rate of about to six to eight months for the patients with stage IV disease meaning cancer
that has spread to other organs if it went untreated. For an early stage patient who
does not get treated meaning the tumor is detected in the colon it might be in the lymph
nodes, but not in other organs yet, this time might depending on how aggressive the tumor
is be extended to a year or two, but invariably it is important for the patient to know that
it will become lethal. Now, colon cancer is a very special case because it is so highly
curable if you treat it early on and the treatment is usually very well tolerated. The patients
in their 90s are able to undergo surgical resection with very good quality of life.
There are support groups for the patient who will end up with a bag. There is information
about chemotherapies and it is important to know that in the curative settings that means
stage II and III colon cancer where we give chemo only for six months. Most of the side
effects, if you are treated by experienced physician, will be gone within a few months
to a couple of years. Some rare side effects such as numbness or tingling caused by some
of these chemotherapies occur if you take them for too long and your physician does
not pay attention and stop them in time. Otherwise, the patient should have an excellent quality
of life after curative treatment for colorectal cancer, so it is very important to bring up
your concerns with your physician specifically tell him what you are concerned about and
discuss the issues that I brought up. For an interactive tool to learn more about
your colon cancer and your personalized treatment options go to MyColonCancerCoach.org.