Colon cancer surgery can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t know exactly what to expect or how to prepare. To ease your worries, we’ve put together this helpful guide for preparing for colon surgery before, during, and after the procedure.
Preparing Before Surgery
Prior to surgery, you will meet with your colorectal surgeon to discuss the procedure and to answer any questions you may have. Your surgeon will ask you general questions about your health history and may perform a physical exam. You will also meet with your anesthesiologist to discuss the type of anesthesia you will be receiving. The night before the surgery, you may need to take a prescribed laxative to ensure your intestine is clear. Avoid eating or drinking anything after midnight the night before your scheduled surgery.
The Day of Surgery
A nurse will insert an IV into a vein in your arm to deliver pain medication as well as fluids. You will then be taken to the operating room. In the operating room, your anesthesiologist will administer your anesthesia and you will drift into sleep. If you are having traditional open surgery, your colorectal surgeon will make an incision in your abdomen to remove the cancer and additional colon from either side to ensure the cancer is removed.
Laparoscopic surgery is another surgical method for colon cancer that is much less invasive than open surgery. Tiny incisions are made for an instrument called a laparoscope, which is a small telescope-like instrument with a camera and light at the end. The surgeon monitors the video screen while performing the procedure with small instruments that pass through small tubes placed in the incisions.
Colon Cancer Surgery Recovery
The length of your hospital stay will depend on the type of procedure you opt for, but many patients have to remain at the hospital for 2-4 days after surgery. You may begin to drink liquids the morning after surgery. You may have to wait a few days to resume a solid diet. Food and drink should be consumed slowly for the first few days. You may also experience some nausea and even vomiting as a side effect of the anesthesia. Your surgeon will let you know when you can return to normal activities and eating habits.
Colon surgery is less daunting when you feel fully prepared and understand what is going to happen. Be sure to keep the lines of communication open with your team of colorectal specialists and share with them any questions or concerns you have about the procedure.