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If you’ve been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, we understand how worrisome that can be. But know that colorectal cancer is one of the most treatable cancers. When detected early with a screening colonoscopy or another test, five-year survival rates are more than 90 percent.

Each of our cancer centers across Kentucky is staffed by some of the region’s leading colorectal cancer specialists. Together, this dedicated team—which may include board-certified gastroenterologists, colorectal surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, highly trained nurses, nutritionists and more—will work with you to create the best possible treatment plan.

We focus on caring for the whole you—mind, body and spirit—and offer access to a full range of support services to guide you throughout your journey.

Learn more about our treatment options below. To make your appointment with a caring specialist, find a gastroenterologist online.

Types of Treatments We Offer

The type of treatment your doctor recommends depends largely on the size and stage of the cancer (early or advanced), as well as your overall health, personal preferences and potential side effects. Our team will work with you to create a plan that you’re completely comfortable with, and focus on keeping you feeling well at every step.

Your personal treatment plan may include one or a combination of:


Surgery to remove the tumor is the most common treatment for colorectal cancer, especially the early stages. Part of the healthy colon or rectum and nearby lymph nodes may also be removed.

If the cancer is small and completely contained within a polyp, your doctor may be able to completely remove it during the screening colonoscopy. Other polyps may also be removed with a minimally invasive laparoscopic procedure, using just a few small incisions in the abdomen.

If the cancer has grown into or through your colon, you may need a procedure called a colectomy, in which the part of your colon that contains the cancer is removed, along with a margin of normal tissue on either side of the cancer.

Whenever possible, CHI Saint Joseph Health colorectal surgeons use the da Vinci® surgical system—state-of-the-art, robotic technology that allows for better precision, with smaller incisions.

For most patients, this technique offers a variety of benefits over traditional open colectomy, including:  

  • Significantly less pain
  • Less blood loss
  • Less scarring
  • Less risk of wound infection
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Shorter recovery time
  • Quicker return to bowel function
  • Quicker return to a normal diet

Less often, some people may need a temporary or permanent colostomy after surgery. This is a surgical opening through which the colon is connected to the abdominal surface to allow waste to exit the body. This waste is collected in a pouch worn by the patient. Our specially trained ostomy nurses can help you learn how to manage the pouch and make any lifestyle adjustments.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses high energy X-rays to shrink or kill cancer cells. Radiation may also be used to help prevent recurrence of disease. These brief, painless treatments can be specifically directed at the part of the body where the cancer is located. Treatments are delivered by linear accelerators, where patients lie on a table in a specially designed room.

Patients are often asked to undergo treatment with a full bladder, as this may lower the risk of side effects.

CHI Saint Joseph Health uses the most advanced technology available to target the tumor with extreme precision. Treatments include 3D conformal therapy, intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and volumetric modulated radiation therapy (VMAT). Image guided radiation therapy (IGRT) and use of a hexapod table ensure treatments are focused directly on the target, while minimizing dose to surrounding healthy tissue.


Chemotherapy is used to kill cancer cells with medicines delivered in varied cycles through either an IV or a pill. It may be used to shrink a tumor before surgery, to kill cancer cells that remain in the body after surgery or radiation or to treat tumors that have developed in other areas of the body. Chemotherapy for colorectal cancer is usually given after surgery if the cancer has spread to lymph nodes, which may reduce the risk of a cancer recurrence. For advanced cancer that is no longer curable, chemo may be used to help shrink tumors and relieve symptoms.

CHI Saint Joseph Health uses the latest, most effective medications that also help minimize the undesired effects of chemotherapy.

Targeted Therapy

Typically used for people with advanced colorectal cancer, targeted drug therapy works to block specific genes and proteins that allow cancer cells to grow, while limiting damage to healthy cells.


Some patients with advanced colorectal cancer may benefit from immunotherapy, which uses medicines to help a person’s own immune system find and destroy cancer cells.

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