Sugarbaker Oncology Associates
Specialty Section for the Treatment of
Primary Colon and Rectal Cancer

The Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program of the National Cancer Institute reports that in the United States, more than 90,000 people are diagnosed with colon cancer and more than 35,000 were diagnosed with rectal cancer each year.  SEER estimates that approximately 50,000 die of colon or rectal cancer every year.  Although cancer surgery has been of great benefit to patients with large bowel cancer, a hidden flaw that has caused the death of countless patients has gone unrecognized. Although the surgeon has dealt successfully with the primary tumor, he has neglected to treat microscopic residual disease. Persistent cancer cells within the abdomen and pelvis are responsible for the death of 30-50% of the patients who die with this disease and are responsible for tragic quality of life consequences that result from intestinal obstruction caused by cancer recurrence at the resection site and on peritoneal surfaces.


Optimal surgical techniques for large bowel cancer resection minimize the residual microscopic disease that may result from surgical trauma. New concepts regarding exposure, hemostasis, adequate lymphadenectomy and lateral margins of excisions have occurred. Clinical data shows that a 30 - 50% improvement in survival is possible with an optimization of surgical technique.


Not only should the surgical event for primary colon and rectal cancer be optimized, but also the successful management of peritoneal carcinomatosis should be initiated in the operating room. Resection site disease and peritoneal carcinomatosis can be prevented through the use of perioperative intraperitoneal chemotherapy in patients at high risk of microscopic residual disease. These are patients with peritoneal seeding, perforated cancer, positive peritoneal cytology, ovarian involvement, tumor spill during surgery and adjacent organ involvement.

Peritoneal dissemination can be prevented, at least in part, by proper surgical technique utilized to resect the primary colon or rectal cancer. Established peritoneal carcinomatosis can be cured with proper combinations of peritonectomy procedures, visceral resections and perioperative intraperitoneal chemotherapy. With a combination of proper techniques for the resection of primary disease, peritonectomy procedures for the removal of all visible peritoneal implants, intraoperative and early postoperative chemotherapy for the eradication of
microscopic residual disease, and quantitative tools for proper patient selection, one can optimize the surgical treatment of patients with colon and rectal cancer.

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