Colon Cancer Treatment in Israel
Colon cancer is the second most common cancer in the Western world, occurring most commonly in older adults. Generally, it begins as small, benign polyps that develop on the inside of the colon. Over time, these polyps can turn into colon cancers. When polyps are detected in their early stages, they can be removed during a colonoscopy, thereby preventing the development of cancer. Regular screening tests (colonoscopies and fecal occult blood test) for the general population from age 50 are therefore an essential and standard medical recommendation. If colon cancer does develop, a range of treatments are available to help control it.
At Sheba Medical Center’s Gastroenterology Institute, a team of specialists in gastroenterology and genetics works closely with surgeons, oncologists, radiologists, and pathologists to provide colon cancer treatment in Israel. Regular multidisciplinary discussions are held to discuss and custom-tailor the most effective therapy for each patient, as well as advise both the patient and family members about future prevention.
While there is no scientific certainty about what causes colon cancer, various factors are known to raise your risk of this colorectal disease – including lifestyle behaviors and medical history:
- Age: most people are older than 50, although colon cancer can be diagnosed at any age
- Previous polyps or colon cancer
- Inflammatory intestinal conditions, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
- Family history; one or more blood relatives who have had colon cancer
- Genetic syndromes, such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) and Lynch syndrome (also known as hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer – HNPCC)
- Low-fiber, high-fat diet
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Diabetes or insulin resistance
- Radiation therapy to treat previous cancers
Colon Cancer Stages
If you have received a diagnosis of colon cancer, staging the cancer is generally the next step. Staging helps to determine the extent of your cancer, which is essential for designing the most suitable treatment plan.
Most colon cancers begin with an adenoma, a non-malignant tumor that can gradually develop into adenocarcinoma cancer. Removing this benign tumor will greatly reduce the risk of developing malignant cancer.
The stages of colon cancer are as follows:
Stage 0: Cancer cells are found in the innermost layer of the intestinal wall
In the early stages of colon cancer, most patients do not experience any symptoms. Once signs and symptoms appear, they vary according to the cancer’s size and specific location in the large intestine.
Possible symptoms include:
- A persistent change in bowel habits, such as constipation or diarrhea, or a change in stool consistency
- Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool; black stool
- Continual abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain
- Unexplained weight loss
- Iron deficiency/anemia
- Sensation that the bowel doesn’t empty completely
- Weakness or fatigue
All of the above are suspicious but non-specific signs that can also appear in many benign conditions. Only a full medical assessment can determine if they indicate the presence of colon cancer.
If your doctor suspects that you may have colon cancer, the following tests may be performed:
Colon Cancer Treatment in Israel
At Sheba, our physicians will consider the details of your condition, including the stage and location of the cancer and any other health issues, to recommend the most effective treatment plan.
1. Surgery for early stage colon cancer – If the tumor is very small, a minimally invasive procedure may be performed, such as:
- Removing polyps during the colonoscopy
- Laparoscopic surgery: May be used when polyps can’t be removed during the colonoscopy. This procedure is done through small incisions in the abdominal wall.
- Endoscopic mucosal resection: Removes larger polyps and a small piece of the colon’s inner lining
2. Surgery for more advanced colon cancer
- Partial colectomy: The part of the colon that contains the cancer is removed, along with some of the normal adjacent tissue. The healthy parts of the colon or rectum are then reconnected.
- Ostomy: When it’s not possible to reattach the healthy parts of the colon or rectum, this surgery creates a stoma (an opening) in the abdominal wall that allows stool to be eliminated into a bag. An ostomy can be temporary or permanent.
- Lymph node removal: Lymph nodes may also be removed during colon cancer surgery.
3. Surgery for metastatic cancer
When the cancer is extremely advanced, an operation may be done to relieve colon blockage and improve symptoms. This procedure doesn’t cure the cancer, but works to relieve bleeding, blockage, or pain.
HIPEC – Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy
This breakthrough, alternative therapy delivers high and heated doses of chemotherapy directly into the abdomen. HIPEC, which is performed at Sheba, may be used to treat colon cancer that has spread to the lining of the abdominal cavity.
After surgery, colon cancer treatment in Israel may include chemotherapy to destroy any cancer cells that remain in the body, reducing the risk of recurrence. The drugs will typically be given for six months and can include one type of chemotherapy or a combination of two types. Chemotherapy may also be administered before an operation to shrink a large cancer.
Radiation therapy can be used to kill cancer cells; it may also be used to shrink a tumor before surgery. Radiation is sometimes combined with chemotherapy.
Targeted drug therapy
Targeted drugs work by blocking specific abnormalities in cancer cells, causing the cells to die. This treatment is generally used in conjunction with chemotherapy, and it is recommended mainly for people with advanced colon cancer.
Immunotherapy modifies the cells of your immune system so they fight cancer directly. Usually, immunotherapy is recommended only for advanced colon cancer.
Treatments in clinical research
At Sheba Cancer Center, several clinical studies to examine the safety and efficacy of new treatments are ongoing. Our doctors can discuss any suitable options with you.
Meet Our Team
Einat Shacham-Shmueli, MD
Senior Oncologist, Gastrointestinal Clinic
Dr. Shacham-Shmueli received her medical degree from the Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University. She specializes in gastrointestinal malignancies – cancers of the stomach, esophagus, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, colon, anus, and rectum. Dr. Schacham-Shmueli has authored more than 25 original scientific articles in international journals. She is a member of the Israel Society of Oncology and Radiotherapy, as well as an investigator for the NCI (National Cancer Institute), RTOG (Radiation Therapy Oncology Group), and CTEP (Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program).
Ben Boursi, MD
Physician, Gastrointestinal Cancer Clinic
Dr. Boursi specializes in Clinical Oncology and Radiotherapy. His research focus is in the prevention and early detection of cancer using innovative technologies, along with epidemiological and genetic data. Dr. Boursi has developed models for the early detection of colorectal cancer and pancreatic cancer. He is widely published in leading scientific journals, and his research has been featured at major international oncology conferences and cited in popular media.