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12 cycles of chemotherapy for colon cancer

Learn about 12 cycles of chemotherapy for colon cancer, including what to expect, how to prepare, how to manage, and side effects for effective treatment.

  • Cancer
By Sakshi More 19th Apr '24 19th Apr '24
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Colon cancer ranks among the most prevalent cancers worldwide. Colon cancer is a significant health challenge, affecting thousands each year. One common treatment approach for colon cancer is chemotherapy. This detailed guide explains the process and expectations associated with 12 cycles of chemotherapy for colon cancer, aiming to offer insights and support for those undergoing or considering this treatment.

Colon Cancer

What is Colon Cancer?

Colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, originates in the large intestine or rectal area, forming initially small, noncancerous (benign) lumps or harmless groups of cells known as polyps. Over time, some of these polyps can transform into malignant (cancerous) cells.

But what does this mean for you? Let's break down what colon cancer is and how it affects your body to better understand the treatment ahead.


Schedule a consultation today! with the oncology specialists and get personalized insights into your colon cancer treatment options.

Understanding Colon Cancer

Over time, these polyps can become cancerous, growing deeper into the colon walls and possibly spreading to other body parts. Early detection of these polyps through screenings like colonoscopies is key because it can prevent them from turning into cancer.

Understanding Colon Cancer 

This cancer is most common in older adults, although it can occur at any age. Early detection is crucial because it greatly improves the chances of successful treatment with therapies, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.

Curious to understand more about colon cancer treatments? Book an Appointment now to get expert guidance on the latest treatment options and advances in colon cancer care.

Stages of Colon Cancer

Colon cancer progresses through several stages, each affecting treatment options and outcomes. Here's a simplified breakdown of each stage:

Stages of Colon Cancer

  • Stage 0 (Carcinoma in Situ): The earliest stage where abnormal cells are only in the inner lining of the colon or rectum. Removal is usually done through a colonoscopy.
  • Stage I: Cancer has grown into deeper layers but hasn't spread outside the colon or to lymph nodes. Surgery is typically used to remove the affected part.
  • Stage II: Cancer has spread through the colon wall but hasn't reached any lymph nodes. Treatment usually involves surgery, and sometimes chemotherapy, to prevent recurrence.
  • Stage III: Cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes but not to distant sites. Treatment involves surgery, followed by chemotherapy and sometimes radiation to kill any remaining cancer cells.
  • Stage IV: The most advanced stage, where cancer has spread to distant organs like the liver or lungs. Treatment options may include surgery, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and palliative care to ease symptoms and improve quality of life.

Now, you might be wondering... How exactly do we prepare for chemotherapy and what are the first steps? Here’s what you need to know.

Preparing for Chemotherapy

Preparing for chemotherapy involves several important steps to ensure the treatment is as effective and manageable as possible.

  • Complete Health Check-Up: Get a full medical examination to tailor your chemotherapy plan and ensure your body can handle the treatment.
  • Discuss Medical History: Discuss your health issues and treatments with your doctor to prevent complications.
  • Learn About Side Effects: Understand the potential side effects of your chemotherapy drugs so you can be prepared to manage them.
  • Undergo Diagnostic Tests: Have necessary blood tests and possibly organ function tests to confirm your readiness for chemotherapy.
  • Make Dietary Changes: Based on the advice of a nutritionist, adjust your diet to help strengthen your body and lessen side effects.
  • Arrange Support: Set up a support network and plan logistics like transportation and home help for treatment days.

Chemotherapy involves administering specific drugs to target cancer cells. The 12-cycle regimen signifies a prolonged course aiming to eradicate cancer cells, prevent recurrence, and enhance survival. Chemotherapy for colon cancer often includes drugs like 5-fluorouracil (5-FU)oxaliplatinirinotecan, and capecitabine. These agents disrupt cancer cell growth and division. Let's learn how the treatment goes.

12 Cycles of Chemotherapy for Colon Cancer


Doctors often prescribe 12 cycles of chemotherapy to treat colon cancer. This helps the chance of remission. Here's a brief explanation of each cycle:

Cycle 1 is the introduction of chemotherapy drugs to target and kill cancer cells, with initial doses adjusted based on the patient's health and cancer stage.

Cycle 2 is for evaluating the initial response to drugs. Adjustments may be made based on side effects and observed effectiveness.

Cycle 3 will continue the treatment. Doctors will monitor blood counts and the patient's health. This is to ensure the patient can tolerate treatment.

Cycle 4 involves assessing tumor response through imaging tests. Doctors may adjust drugs based on results.

Cycle 5 has 2 tasks. The first is to maintain the drug regimen. It focuses on managing side effects and keeping the dosage effective.

Cycle 6 is the midway evaluation of treatment progress. Changes may be made to improve outcomes.

Cycle 7 will feature continued therapy. The therapy will have ongoing changes. The goal is to kill cancer cells and manage health impacts.

Cycle 8 will include more imaging and tests to track cancer. You will also continue the adjusted chemo.

Cycle 9 is an ongoing treatment. It is under close medical supervision to ensure a sustained response to therapy.

Cycle 10 is for preparing to conclude. It will focus on assessing any remaining cancer.

Cycle 11 is the second-to-last cycle. It aims to keep the gains in cancer treatment and prepare for the possible end of chemotherapy.

Cycle 12 is the final cycle. It has a big evaluation to decide the next steps. The decision will be based on the results after chemotherapy.

Each cycle is a few weeks long. This gives the body time to recover between treatments.

Chemotherapy is a powerful cancer treatment. But, it often causes side effects. These are due to its impact on fast-dividing cells in the body, not just the cancer cells.

Side Effects of Chemotherapy

Side Effects of Chemotherapy

What to Expect During and After Chemotherapy

During Chemotherapy:

  • Treatment Schedule: A series of treatments over weeks or months, with breaks in between.
  • Administration: Drugs given intravenously (IV) or as pills.
  • Monitoring: Regular health checks to adjust treatment as needed. Also, access to counselling and nutritional advice.
  • Side Effects: Medications and strategies to manage effects like nausea and fatigue.

After Chemotherapy:

  • Follow-up Care: Regular doctor visits to monitor health and any signs of cancer.
  • Recovery: Gradual improvement of side effects; hair and energy levels return.
  • Long-Term Monitoring: Check for long-term side effects over the years.
  • Lifestyle Guidance: Advice on diet and exercise to maintain health and prevent recurrence.
  • Emotional Support: Ongoing access to mental health services and support groups.

So, what’s next after chemotherapy? Get in touch with experienced oncologists. Contact us now to navigate the post-treatment landscape and the importance of ongoing care.

Survival Success Rates

The 5-year survival rate for stage II colon cancer can exceed 80% with appropriate treatment, including chemotherapy. However, some people may live longer than 5 years following their diagnosis.

  • A study published in Frontiers in Oncology reported that the 5-year survival rates for stage II colon cancer were 69.9%
  • Colorectal cancer is the third most diagnosed cancer globally. In 2020, approximately 1,880,725 people were diagnosed with colorectal cancer cases.
  • The overall 5-year relative survival rate for people with colon cancer is 63%. If the cancer is diagnosed at a localized stage (stage I or II), the survival rate increases to 91%.

However, it’s essential to note that survival rates can vary due to various factors, including access to healthcare, treatment options, and individual patient characteristics.

Recent Insights

Doctors have been studying how long chemotherapy should last for treating certain types of colon cancer. They found that for stage III and high-risk stage II colon cancer, having chemotherapy for just three months works as well as the usual 6 month treatment. This means people have a similar chance of surviving without recurrence of cancer.

Doctors must customize treatment based on each person's situation. For stage IV cancer, where the cancer has spread to the liver but surgery might still be an option, doctors might suggest a shorter course of chemotherapy first. Then, they'll check if surgery is possible afterwards.


Undergoing 12 cycles of chemotherapy is tough. But, it's often a vital treatment for colon cancer. While challenging, the potential for a positive outcome can make the process worthwhile. Support from healthcare providers, family, and cancer support groups is crucial. It helps in navigating this journey.


How long does each chemotherapy cycle last in the treatment of colon cancer?

Chemotherapy cycles last a few weeks. Treatments are given at intervals to allow the body to recover.

Are the side effects of chemotherapy permanent?

Most side effects are temporary. However, some, like nerve damage or memory issues, can last long after treatment.

Can dietary changes help manage the side effects of chemotherapy?

Yes, dietary changes can help manage side effects. Eating a balanced diet and staying hydrated can reduce nausea. It can also boost energy levels.

What is the success rate of chemotherapy for colon cancer? 

The success rate of chemotherapy varies by cancer stage. Early detection generally leads to better outcomes.

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Question and Answers

Sir my mother has been affected by peri ampullary carcinoma. She is 45 years old now. I need help from you. In the world i don't have anyone except my mother.

Female | 45

This form of cancer causes symptoms such as jaundice, weight loss, and belly pain. It starts when cells near the ampulla of Vater begin growing out of control. Treatment typically involves surgery followed by chemotherapy. You must collaborate closely with her physician to determine the most effective course of action for your mother. Be strong and be there for her during this difficult time.

Answered on 10th June '24

Dr. Sridhar Susheela

Dr. Sridhar Susheela

Does cancer come back in everyone who is cured after treatment?

Male | 22

When an individual undergoes treatment and the disease fades away, it’s a relief. Nonetheless, there are times when it recurs after going into remission. It is contingent on the kind of malignancy one has as well as the method used for healing it. Signs that can indicate its reoccurrence may be similar to those experienced during the first onset such as unexplained weight loss, fatigue, or formation of new masses. To avoid its resurgence, you need to keep seeing your doctor for regular checkups besides living healthily. 

Answered on 11th June '24

Dr. Sridhar Susheela

Dr. Sridhar Susheela

He is infected of perenial fistula. And for years ,almost 9 surgeries was operated for him. And his colonscopy result before 1 and half year said normal. But now when MRI is taken ,shows some small tumors and may be T4N1MX adenocarcinoma cancer IS created but the other results like colonoscopy says normal , biopsy result says non diagnostic, CT SCAN result says it is better for him to take the test after 6 months, the blood test says normal and other organs like kidney, liver...are all normal. He has normal medical result apart from the cancer and now he is taking chemiotherapy treatment so what shall I do

Male | 64

When you have adenocarcinoma, you must stick to the treatment plan your doctor gives you. Chemotherapy is used often for treating this type of cancer. Just try to follow the treatment schedule, eat well, and get enough rest. 

Answered on 6th June '24

Dr. Ganesh Nagarajan

Dr. Ganesh Nagarajan

I am suffering from severe stomach pain due to colon cancer stage 4, any medicine for pain relief

Male | 53

This pain occurs because the tumor is pressing on your belly inside. To relieve it, the doctor can prescribe you stronger drugs than those sold in the drugstore. These medicines are designed to ease the pain and make you comfortable. Keep telling your doctor how you feel so that they can change the medication when necessary to control the pain effectively.

Answered on 23rd May '24

Dr. Sridhar Susheela

Dr. Sridhar Susheela

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