Is chemotherapy after surgery required?

ThinkstockPhotos-480427029After bowel cancer surgery, patients will either have adjuvant or palliative surgery, depending on the stage of their cancer. There will also be some cases in which chemotherapy isn’t needed at all.

Oncologist Sanjay Mukhedkar from OncologyWest says adjuvant chemotherapy works likes a vaccine to help prevent the cancer from recurring.

“Adjuvant chemotherapy is used when the patient’s cancer is curable,” Dr Mukhedkar says.

“The treatment lasts for about six months and then the patient will have a followup appointment every six months for five years after the procedure, plus an annual colonoscopy.”

When a patient’s cancer has spread, palliative chemotherapy is used to control, not cure cancer.

“Palliative chemotherapy will prolong and increase the patient’s quality of life.”

“Without palliative chemo, in most cases, patients have about nine to 12 months to live but with palliative chemo, life span is extended to about 30 months.”

Chemotherapy plus monoclonal antibodies will not only stretch lifespan, but reduce pain caused by bleeding and obstruction.

“Chemotherapy side effects, which are often transient anyway, are a small price to pay for avoiding debilitating pain and having more time to spend with your loved ones.”

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