Recovery after Surgery for Colon Cancer

By YourCareEverywhere Staff @YourCareE
May 12, 2017
Doctors comforting female patient --- Image by © Ghislain & Marie David de Lossy/Corbis

Always follow the instructions you get from your healthcare providers, and contact them with any questions once you go home after surgery for colon cancer.

You have been diagnosed with cancer of the colon or rectum (also called colorectal cancer). This is the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells in your colon or rectum. The surgical removal of part or all of your colon (colectomy) is the primary treatment for most colorectal cancers. How much of your colon or rectum the surgeon removes depends on the location of the tumor. Your healthcare provider may recommend additional therapies, such as radiation or chemotherapy. This information will help you remember how to care for yourself after surgery.


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After total abdominal colectomy

A total abdominal colectomy is surgery to remove your colon. Your colon, also called the large intestine, is part of your bowel. A colectomy is done to remove disease, such as cancer, polyps, and inflammatory bowel disease, and to relieve the symptoms you have been having, such as bleeding, blockage, and pain.  

When you have a colostomy

This is a life-saving procedure that involves removing or disconnecting part of your colon (large intestine). If your large intestine was diseased, your healthcare provider may have removed it. If it was injured, your healthcare provider may have disconnected it for a short time so that it can heal. After it heals, your healthcare provider may reconnect it. During a colostomy formation, your healthcare provider reroutes your colon through your abdominal wall. Stool and mucus can then pass out of your body through this opening, called a stoma.  

Living with a colostomy

Some people with colorectal cancer (or other problems) may need to have a colostomy, which changes the way food wastes leave the body. Living with a colostomy can be a major change, but knowing what to expect and how to deal with it can help you adjust to it.

Recovering in the hospital and at home

When the surgery is done, you’ll be taken to the recovery room (also called the post-anesthesia care unit or PACU). Here, your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing will be carefully monitored. You’ll also receive pain medicine to keep you comfortable. When you’re ready, you’ll be moved to a regular hospital room. You’ll then be monitored closely to be sure you’re healing well. Your hospital stay may last from a few days to a week, or longer.


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