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The Patient Journey Through the Treatment of Colon Cancer

The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be 101,420 new cases of colon cancer in the United States in 2019. Dr. Matthew Wilson, colorectal surgeon at Utica Park Clinic, spoke with us about what you need to know about colon cancer and the patient journey through the treatment of colon cancer.

Dr. Wilson notes how important it is that your colon cancer treatment uses a multidisciplinary (including a variety of specialists) approach. “It’s important that the surgeons, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists customize the best plan for each particular patient,” he clarifies.

Many of Dr. Wilson’s patients who are diagnosed with colon cancer think the first step in their treatment is to have surgery. Dr. Wilson clarifies that this isn’t always the case. “Often, patients automatically jump to asking ‘when can I have my surgery to remove this?’, but before we do that, it’s important that we get a stage of the patient,” he says. This involves the patient getting CAT scans and lab work to help the physicians get a good idea of what the disease is and what they’re treating.

Dr. Wilson adds, “If a patient has an already metastatic (spreading) disease, it’s not always in their best interest to undergo surgery first. They should get chemotherapy first to treat the systemic disease.” According to Dr. Wilson, it’s important that your doctors do an adequate workup and staging of your disease to formulate a treatment plan that is right for you.

“Treatment begins with the diagnosis,” he says. ”You will get staged and you’ll either have surgery or chemotherapy first and then we’ll assess things. If you’re getting chemotherapy and you’re not responding, as in your tumors are growing, we will have to readjust our approach because this one isn’t working. That’s where having a multidisciplinary team comes in because we can discuss what’s best for the patient and modify the treatment plan,” Dr. Wilson says.

What comes after your surgery and chemotherapy? Dr. Wilson explains that there is a maintenance period after treatment, sharing, “The National Comprehensive Cancer Network has guidelines for a fiveyear plan for every patient. Every one of my patients has a five-year plan.” Dr. Wilson elaborates that after you’ve gotten your treatment and you’re disease free, you will be surveyed for five years. “The first two years, you will see me every three months for lab work and exams. Then, we’ll do annual CAT scans for three years. You’ll also have a colonoscopy a year after your surgery. If all of that is normal, we will do it again in three years. You’ll be seeing me either every three months or every six months for five years for surveillance, labs, CAT scans, and colonoscopies,” Wilson concludes.

To make an appointment for a colonoscopy with Dr. Wilson at Utica Park Clinic, please call the Utica Park Clinic Colon Cancer Screening Center at 918-579-4044.