St. Anthony’s Cancer Care Center

Colorectal & Gastrointestinal (GI) Cancer


Surgery is often a cornerstone in any treatment plan for colorectal cancer. If the cancer is in the early stages and has not spread beyond the colon, then surgery may be the only treatment you need. In fact, sometimes your doctor can remove the cancerous polyp during a simple colonoscopy. If the pathologist determines that the cancer was localized to the polyp, it may be possible that you won’t need further treatment.

Surgical Procedures for Colorectal Cancer

You will meet with St. Anthony's Medical Center chief of surgery and a colon and rectal surgeon, to discuss your surgical options.

There are different surgical procedures depending on the severity of the disease.

Surgery to Remove a Colorectal Tumor

  • Bowel resection or colectomy: Your surgeon cuts into the area of the colon or rectum that has the tumor. Your surgeon removes the tumor as well as the tissue that surrounds the tumor. Then, the healthy parts of the colon or rectum are sewn back together.
  • Liver resection: Sometimes, colorectal cancer spreads to the liver. In this case, the surgeon removes the part of the liver containing the tumor as well as some of the healthy surrounding tissue. Since the liver can regenerate, your surgeon can safely remove up to half of your liver.
  • Cryoablation: This is another surgical method that can be used if the colorectal cancer has spread to the liver. A catheter probe cooled to below-zero temperate is applied to the tumor to destroy the cancer cells.

Palliative Surgery for Colorectal Cancer

Sometimes, surgery is used to make you more comfortable. If the cancer is very advanced, your surgeon may not be able to remove the tumor entirely. However, the tumor may be causing an obstruction. For example, if the tumor is blocking your colon or rectum, your surgeon may perform an operation to relieve some of the discomfort.

Da Vinci® Si™ Surgical System for Colorectal Cancers

At St. Anthony’s Cancer Care Center, surgeons may use the da Vinci® surgical robotic system to perform colorectal cancer. The actual surgery is performed via tiny robotic instruments that your surgeon controls from a nearby console.

The da Vinci robotic system allows your surgeon to access hard-to-reach places. Patients may recover faster from a da Vinci robotic operation than from a traditional “open” operation. At St. Anthony’s Cancer Care Center, our surgeons receive intense training in operating using a da Vinci robotic system.

Learn more about the da Vinci robotic surgery system.

Will I need a colostomy?

A colostomy is a waste bag that sits outside your body. Sometimes, depending where the tumor was located, your surgeon may not be able to reconnect the healthy parts of your colon or rectum. In this case, your surgeon will create a small opening in your abdomen so that you can eliminate waste into the bag. Occasionally, patients need a permanent colostomy. Often, however, it is a temporary measure until your colon or rectum heals.