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Colon cancer treatment Worldwide: Best Hospitals, Doctors, Options, & Cost

Colon cancer remains the second top cause of cancer-related deaths globally. According to WHO statistics, over 1.9 million new cases were diagnosed in 2020, resulting in more than 930,000 deaths. The risk rises with age, and most are diagnosed after 50.

Early detection and the start of colon cancer treatment are paramount, as many individuals may not have symptoms in the initial stages. The good news is that in high-income countries, the incidence rates have declined, thanks to screening programs. A 10-yearly colonoscopy is the most effective, with a reduction of death in 73%. Colon cancer treatment prognosis varies based on the stage at diagnosis. For example, 5-year life expectancy in the first stage is 91%. Still, it is only 12-14% in stage 4, so proper colon cancer treatment is crucial.

Update: May 25, 2024

Best colon cancer treatment centers

Colon cancer hospital selection

Selecting the ideal hospital for colon cancer treatment is a critical decision that demands thorough research due to the disease's complexity. The best centers have a multidisciplinary team of experts, from colorectal surgeons to dietitians, ensuring a holistic treatment approach.

Advanced diagnostic tools, adherence to international standards, and surgical and non-surgical colon cancer staging treatment, including the latest immunotherapy, are hallmarks of top-rated hospitals. Comprehensive rehabilitation, encompassing dietary guidance, physical therapy, and emotional support, is vital for holistic recovery. A hospital's reputation is also crucial, informed by reviews and track records regarding success rates and patient satisfaction. Proximity and affordability are practical considerations.

Ultimately, the best choice balances quality care, accessibility, and cost. AiroMedical is committed to assisting patients in navigating this decision, prioritizing their well-being.

Top colon cancer doctors

Prof. Dr. med. Tho­mas Vogl
Dr. med. Anett Tillmann, MBA
Prof. Dr. med. Roland Ladurner
Academic Hospital Martha-Maria Munich
general, abdominal, thoracic, endocrine, vascular and minimally invasive surgery
Prof. Dr. med. Alexander Muacevic
Prof. Dr. med. Harald-Robert Bruch, MSc, PhD
Oncological and Haematological Praxis Clinic Bonn
gastroenterology, hepatology, infectious diseases, oncology, hematology, pain therapy and nutritionology
Prof. Dr. med. Hans Hoffmann
Prof. Dr. med. Philipp M. Paprottka
Prof. Dr. med. Roland M. Schmid
University Hospital Rechts der Isar Munich
internal medicine, gastroenterology, endocrinology, diabetology, infectiology, hepatology
Prof. Dr. med. Florian Bassermann

About your colon cancer doctor choosing

When facing a diagnosis, selecting the right colon cancer specialist is paramount. The ideal colon cancer doctor possesses specialized oncology training, particularly in colon cancer, and is affiliated with esteemed medical organizations, signifying their dedication to excellence and adherence to high standards.

Effective treatment often involves a collaborative approach, with doctors teaming up with various specialists to provide comprehensive care. These professionals use advanced diagnostic tools to ensure accurate cancer staging, crucial for tailored treatment plans. Their vast experience, reflected in their success metrics, offers reliability. They also prioritize patient safety, closely monitoring for any treatment-related complications. Actively participating in research, each reputable colon cancer doctor brings the latest treatments to the patients. A holistic approach, encompassing medical and therapeutic strategies, ensures overall well-being.

Patient testimonials offer insights into a colon cancer doctor's approach and effectiveness. AiroMedical can help you navigate this selection process, connecting with your top colon cancer doctor from our extensive database.

Treatment of colon cancer

The best colon cancer treatment choices are influenced by the cancer's type and stage, potential side effects, and the patient's health and preferences. When deciding on a treatment, it's also important to consider any other medications the patient is on, their nutritional status, potential treatment side effects, and support system.

Surgical solutions

Surgery is a primary treatment for colorectal cancer, especially for those seeking stage 1 colon cancer treatment. The process entails taking out the tumor and some surrounding healthy tissue.

Colonoscopy removal
For early cancers and polyps, the reduction can occur during a colonoscopy. It involves either a polypectomy, where the polyp is removed at its base, or a local excision, where small cancers and some surrounding tissue are removed. According to the study, for tumors less than 20 mm, polypectomy is as effective as surgery.
Itis a procedure to remove part or all of the colon and nearby lymph nodes. The extent of removal determines its specific name, hemi-, partial, and total colectomy.

  • An open colectomy. During open surgery, the surgeon creates a sizable incision in the abdomen to extract the tumor and a portion of the healthy colon or rectum. The segment containing the cancer and the connected lymph nodes are also taken out.
  • Laparoscopic-assisted surgery. This minimally invasive procedure involves small incisions and specialized instruments. It's beneficial for early stages, as effective as traditional surgery, but often with a quicker recovery time.

Ten years post-surgery, both laparoscopic and open colectomy procedures for cancer show comparable survival and recurrence rates. The disease-free survival rates stood at 45.2% for the laparoscopy and 43.2% for the open surgery.

Some colorectal cancer patients might need a colostomy, creating an opening (stoma) for waste elimination. Depending on the circumstances, it might be short-term or long-term.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays, like X-rays, to destroy cancer cells. Radiation therapy is frequently used for rectal cancer but can also be applied to colon cancer in specific cases. Radiation is used for colon cancer treatment before or after surgery, often in conjunction with chemotherapy, to manage tumors, address metastasis, or alleviate severe symptoms.

Conventional external radiotherapy
The most common option for colon cancer treatment is where a machine outside the body targets the tumor. Advanced external-beam radiation therapy (EBRT) techniques focus radiation more precisely, minimizing damage to healthy tissues. They're beneficial for metastasized colorectal cancers in the lungs or liver.
Three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT)
This method uses detailed imaging to map the location of the tumor. Radiation beams are tailored to fit the tumor's size, ensuring the cancer gets the highest dose while reducing harm to nearby healthy tissues. It's a commonly used technique for various cancers, including colorectal cancer. The 5-year survival rate is 75%.

Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is an advanced form of 3D-CRT. The radiation varies in intensity across areas, giving different doses to parts of the tumor or nearby tissues. This precision helps reduce damage to healthy tissues and is beneficial for treating tumors close to critical structures. The 12-month overall survival was 95%, while the 5-year it was 86%.

Internal radiation therapy (brachytherapy)
Used for some rectal cancers, this involves placing a radioactive source inside the rectum close to the tumor. Types include:

  • Endocavitary radiation therapy: A device in the rectum delivers high-intensity radiation in short bursts—suitable for small tumors or recurring cancers post-radiation.
  • Interstitial brachytherapy: A tube placed into the tumor receives radioactive pellets. It's for patients unfit for surgery or with recurring rectal cancer.
Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), also known as CyberKnife. SBRT delivers very high doses of radiation to the tumor in fewer sessions than traditional radiation therapy.

The CyberKnife system is a type of SBRT that uses real-time imaging to track the tumor's movement and adjust the radiation beams accordingly. It's particularly effective for treating small, well-defined tumors. After one year, local control was 83.8%, and progress-free survival was 55%.

Proton therapy
Proton therapy uses protons instead of X-rays to treat cancer. Protons are charged particles that can be directed to release their energy within the tumor, minimizing damage to surrounding tissues. This therapy can be especially beneficial for tumors near critical organs or structures. Statistics report that the local control was 71.9% at one year and 61.2% at 3 years.


Chemotherapy involves the use of anti-cancer drugs administered either intravenously or orally. These drugs circulate throughout the body, eliminating cancer cells. Chemo is a standard in colorectal cancer treatment and can be used in various cases as:

It is administered post-surgery to eliminate unseen cancer cells, reducing the risk of recurrence.
Given pre-surgery, sometimes with radiation, to shrink tumors, primarily for rectal cancer.
Chemo can shrink advanced tumors and alleviate symptoms for metastasized cancers, extending life even if a cure is unlikely.

Chemo drugs for colon cancer treatment can be given as short injections or more prolonged infusions in medical settings. Central venous catheters like ports or PICC lines are often used for administration.

Treatment typically follows cycles, allowing recovery time between drug doses. The duration and frequency depend on the specific drug. Adjuvant or neoadjuvant chemo usually lasts 3 to 6 months, while treatment length for advanced cases varies based on effectiveness and side effects.

Drugs are introduced intravenously or orally into the bloodstream, reaching most body parts during systemic chemotherapy. They can target a specific body area, like the hepatic artery, for liver metastases as regional chemo.

It is another technique specifically for liver metastases. It works by obstructing the blood flow to the tumor. The liver's blood supply allows this procedure to target cancer cells without significantly harming the healthy. Variants of embolization include transarterial chemoembolization (TACE), which combines chemotherapy with the process. The survival rate is 68% after one year and 28% after two years.

The most used chemo in colon cancer treatment: 5-Fluorouracil (5-FU), Capecitabine (Xeloda), Irinotecan (Camptosar), Oxaliplatin (Eloxatin), Trifluridine and tipiracil (Lonsurf).

These drugs are often combined in specific protocols to enhance their effectiveness, and sometimes, they're paired with targeted therapy drugs to improve the results of colon cancer treatment.

A combination of 5-FU, leucovorin (folinic acid), and oxaliplatin. Used as a treatment for stage 3, the survival rate over five years in FOLFOX was 77.9%.
Uses capecitabine (Xeloda) and oxaliplatin. CAPEOX showed a 3-year disease-free survival rate of 83.8% for high-risk patients.
A regimen that includes 5-FU, leucovorin, oxaliplatin, and irinotecan. The 12-month survival rate was 90%, and at 24 months, it was 76%.
This is 5-FU combined with leucovorin. The combination led to partial response rates between 16% and 45%.

Each protocol has its specific use cases, benefits, and side effects. The choice of regimen often depends on the disease stage, the patient's health, and other factors.

Targeted therapy

Targeted treatment for colon cancer focuses on specific cell changes causing cancer. Unlike chemotherapy, targeted drugs often work when chemo doesn't and have distinct side effects. They can be used alongside chemo or independently if chemo fails. These drugs circulate throughout the body, making them especially effective against metastasized cancers.

Vascular endothelial growth factor inhibitors
The drugs promote the formation of new blood vessels in tumors, a process known as angiogenesis, which provides the tumor with nutrients. VEGF inhibitors block this process. Examples: Ramucirumab. The response rate was 58.3%, and 93.8% of patients had controlled disease.
Epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors
EGFR is a protein on the cell surface that, when activated, promotes cell growth and division. Overactivity of EGFR can lead to cancer cell growth. EGFR inhibitors block it. Example: Cetuximab. 75% of patients responded to this colon cancer treatment, and 42% could have surgery due to reduced tumors.
B-Raf proto-oncogene, serine/threonine kinase inhibitors
BRAF is an enzyme that sends signals promoting cell growth and division. Mutations in the BRAF gene can lead to continuous cell growth, contributing to cancer development. BRAF inhibitors target this abnormal enzyme. Example: Encorafenib. The response rate was 20% in the cases where encorafenib was used with cetuximab.
Human epidermal growth factor receptor two inhibitors
HER2 is a protein that can promote the growth of cancer cells. In some cancers, high levels of HER2 are present. HER2 inhibitors target and block this protein, which is helpful for colon cancer treatment. Examples: Trastuzumab, Pertuzumab. The combination of these drugs has shown a 44% disease control rate. Another FDA-approved combo (Tucatinib+ Trastuzumab) has a 38% response rate for advanced and metastatic cancers.
Neurotrophic tyrosine receptor kinase inhibitors
NTRK genes produce TRK proteins that are involved in cell communication and growth. Mutations in these genes can lead to continuous cell signaling, promoting cancer. NTRK inhibitors target these abnormal proteins. Examples: Larotrectinib, Entrectinib. For some kinds of tumors, Entrectinib led to notable tumor reduction in 57% of patients, with 7.4% achieving complete remission. The effect lasted nine months or more for 61% of these responding patients.
Multikinase inhibitor
Kinases are enzymes that add phosphate groups to other proteins, which can activate many cellular processes, including division. In cancer, some kinases are overactive, leading to excessive cell growth and division. Multikinase inhibitors block the action of these enzymes. Example: Regorafenib (Stivagra) with a 40% disease control rate in colon cancer treatment.

While these therapies offer a more precise approach to treating colorectal cancer, it's essential to monitor and manage side effects under the guidance of a healthcare professional.


Immunotherapy is a treatment that boosts the body's immune system to fight colorectal cancer. They aid the immune system in identifying and combating cancer cells.

These medications focus on particular proteins in immune cells that stop the immune system from targeting the body's cells. The drugs amplify the immune response against cancer cells by inhibiting these checkpoints. Here are some drugs for colon cancer treatment:

Pembrolizumab (Keytruda)
It targets a protein called PD-1 in tumor cells. It's used for certain types of colorectal cancers that can't be removed by surgery or have spread. After six months, the rate of patients without disease progression was 31%, while the overall survival rate was 62%.
Nivolumab (Opdivo)
Another drug for colon cancer treatment in advanced stages has promising results. According to the study, after 21 months of observation, nivolumab yielded a 34% response rate. 64% of these responses lasted over a year. After a year, 44% had no disease progression, and 73% survived.
Dostarlimab (Jemperli)
They were used in colon cancer treatment for some recurrent or spread colorectal neoplasms, and a small study reported about 100% remission after using Jemperli.
Ipilimumab (Yervoy)
CTLA-4 is a protein that controls the immune system by managing T cells. Ipilimumab blocks CTLA-4, enabling T cells to combat cancers. Combined with Nivolumab for certain advanced colorectal cancers, the efficacy significantly increased. The combined colon cancer treatment resulted in impressive 1-year progression-free and overall survival rates of 71% and 85%, respectively. The combo has a 100% response rate for some kinds of colon cancer.

For colon cancer treatment, several types of vaccines have been explored: autologous, peptide vaccines, dendritic cell (DC) vaccines, viral vector vaccines, and oncolytic virus therapy.

Therapeutic vaccines for cancer
Therapeutic vaccines boost the immune system to attack and eliminate cancer cells. Cancer vaccines for colon cancer treatment are currently under research to enhance their effectiveness.

Colon cancer treatment by stage

Colon cancer staging and treatment are crucial for understanding and managing the disease. Each stage has specific treatment protocols, ensuring the best chance of recovery.

Treatment for stage 1 colon cancer
It is needed when the disease is located within the colon wall, without lymph nodes involved. The primary method is surgery (removal during colonoscopy), robot-assisted surgery, partial colectomy, and the preliminary stage 1 colon cancer treatment. Radiation and chemotherapy are not needed, but it can change after surgery.
Treatment for stage 2 colon cancer
It is performed when the disease has penetrated deeper to the muscular layer but hasn't reached lymph nodes. The primary approach involves a partial colectomy with nearby lymph nodes. Surgery alone is successful in 80% of patients; 5-year survival for surgery and chemo is 82%.

Chemotherapy might be recommended in cases of recurrence risks. For patients without high-risk features, options include check-ups or 6-month treatments with 5-Ftuorouracil, leucovorin, and capecitabine. The protocols like FOLFOX or CapeOx are used for high-risk patients.

Stage 3 colon cancer treatment
It starts when the disease has spread through the wall to nearby organs and lymph nodes. The treatment combines surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy with options like FOLFOX or CAPEOX.

Operation alone has an almost 60% success rate with a 35.2% recurrence rate; surgery+chemo demonstrates 83.4% and 18.1%, respectively, due to the study.

Stage 4 (metastatic colon cancer) treatment
Metastatic colon cancer, or stage 4, means the cancer has moved from the colon to other distant parts of the body, primarily the liver, lungs, and peritoneum. The five-year survival rate for spread-out metastases is 12%.

Treatment for stage 4 colon cancer encompasses a range of interventions.

  • Surgical procedures can involve local excision, resection, and sometimes removal of parts of organs like the liver, lungs, and ovaries where the cancer has metastasized. In addition, advanced methods like HIPEC surgery can be considered.
  • Chemotherapy, such as FOLFOX and FOLFIRI, controls cancer growth and spread.
  • Targeted therapies, like Bevacizumab and Cetuximab, focus on specific cancer cell attributes or their environment.
  • Immunotherapy, including Pembrolizumab, boosts the body's natural defenses against cancer.
  • Radiation therapy, including techniques like CyberKnife, aims to shrink tumors, while ablation and embolization methods, including TACE, destroy or block tumors.
  • Lastly, palliative care prioritizes patient comfort and symptom management.

Treatment for metastatic colon cancer is multifaceted, aiming to control the disease and maintain the patient's quality of life. Regular consultations with oncologists ensure the treatment plan is tailored to the patient's needs.

Advantages of medical travel

The global healthcare landscape is evolving, with many patients considering international medical needs options. For patients seeking colon cancer treatment abroad, numerous advantages can be offered.

The key benefits of international colon cancer treatment

Renowned experts
Pursuing colon cancer treatment abroad allows patients to be cared for by top oncologists, cancer surgeons, radiologists, and other specialists with tens of years of experience. These experts offer in-depth knowledge and expertise in handling complex cases, ensuring the best possible outcomes.
Latest treatment options
The international healthcare institutions we collaborate with boast the latest medical technology and colon cancer treatment modalities. It encompasses advanced, less-invasive, and faster recovery surgical procedures like robotic surgery. Innovative radiation techniques and groundbreaking therapies like targeted and immunotherapy are widely used.
Cost-effective care
Financial constraints can hinder the pursuit of quality healthcare. However, considering colon cancer treatment costs abroad, patients often find that the overall expenses, even with travel included, are more affordable than in their home countries without sacrificing quality.
Prompt treatment
Delays in colon cancer treatment can be detrimental. One of the significant advantages of the international medical journey is the swift diagnosis and initiation of therapy, alleviating prolonged wait times and the associated mental anguish.
Tailored treatment plans
Hospitals catering to international patients prioritize individualized colon cancer treatment strategies. These plans consider the patient's unique medical background, needs, and personal preferences, ensuring a holistic and practical treatment journey to complete recovery.
Other opinions
Seeking new treatment allows patients to gain second or third opinions from globally recognized experts. This broader perspective can refine the colon cancer treatment approach, giving patients a deeper understanding and confidence in their choices.
Holistic aftercare
Bowel cancer treatment often includes comprehensive post-treatment care. It includes regular check-ups, dietary guidance, physiotherapy, and more, ensuring patients have all the resources they need for a smooth recovery.

At AiroMedical, we connect patients and world-class medical facilities. Our services go beyond just coordinating treatment; we handle all logistical aspects, from travel arrangements to post-treatment care.

We believe quality healthcare should be accessible to all, regardless of borders. Reach out to us, and embark on your treatment journey with assurance and support.

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