Minimally Invasive Treatment for Colon Cancer

The American Cancer Society estimates that nearly one million people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2017. In fact, colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women in the United States and the second leading cause in men. Colorectal cancer includes cancers arising in the colon or rectum, but this fairly common cancer is not as deadly as it was several decades ago.

Regular colorectal screening is one important reason why people are surviving colon cancer, but cutting-edge treatment is another factor. Hemant Chatrath, M.D., a board certified gastroenterologist with Meritus Digestive Health Specialists, gives tristate residents an effective defense against a colon cancer diagnosis.

Working inside-out

Dr. Chatrath uses a newer treatment called endoscopic mucosal resection or EMR to treat early-stage superficial colon cancer, slow-growing cancerous and pre-cancerous growths or large polyps that cannot be removed during a usual colonoscopy, and typically require surgery. The minimally invasive procedure prevents and replaces surgery for partial colon resection—the surgical removal of part of the colon. In addition, EMR can be used to treat early stage cancers in the esophagus and stomach.

EMR is performed with a long, narrow tube equipped with a light, video camera and other instruments. The tube is guided up through the anus and once a large polyp or superficial cancer is seen, the gastroenterologist injects a fluid mixed with dye to create a cushion between the polyp or tumor and the gastrointestinal wall. The liquid lifts the abnormal tissues allowing the gastroenterologist to shave the lesion using thermal energy. The lesion is removed through the endoscope and thermal energy destroys any remaining precancerous or cancerous tissue.

Faster recovery

EMR is an outpatient procedure similar to a colonoscopy and typically takes one hour to perform. Traditional surgery on the other hand, involves reconstruction of your colon, a lengthy recovery time, changes to your diet and bowel movements and occasionally a colostomy, a temporary path for waste material to leave the body.

“For the appropriate patient, EMR has many positive aspects,” says Dr. Chatrath. “Unlike surgery, there is no abdominal incision and you avoid a hospital stay.”

Higher in complexity than traditional endoscopy, not all gastroenterologists are trained to perform EMR. Dr. Chatrath’s extensive training in interventional endoscopy gives him the expertise needed to perform this intricate procedure previously not offered to residents in the tristate area.

“EMR is now the standard of care for patients with these types of conditions,” says Dr. Chatrath. “It’s very exciting and rewarding to offer EMR to our community.”