Left hemicolectomy for colon cancer

A left hemicolectomy is a common surgery for colorectal cancer.

female doctor in blue gown

What is a left hemicolectomy?

This surgery removes a portion of the transverse colon, the descending colon, and the sigmoid colon, and then connects the transverse colon to the rectum. Some lymph nodes and surrounding tissue are also removed.

medical supplies on white table

Left hemicolectomy methods

Your surgeon may perform your hemicolectomy as an open surgery, laparoscopic surgery, or robotic-assisted surgery.

The technique will depend on:

  • your overall health
  • tumor size
  • the surgeon's experience and preference
man with ostomy bag

Will I need a colostomy bag?

It's important to talk to your surgeon about your specific case and whether you will need a colostomy.

Some left hemicolectomy surgeries do not require a stoma if the surgeon is able to connect the two ends of the colon together. The part of the colon that is joined is called an anastomosis.

hand with IV


After left hemicolectomy surgery:

  • You will have some pain that can be controlled with medication.
  • For a few days, you may be on a liquid diet to let your colon heal.
  • Bowel function usually returns within three days after surgery.
  • Your doctor will determine when you can return to work, driving, and other activities.
blue surgical mask

Risks and possible complications

Risks of any surgery depend on several factors, including your overall health and the extent of the surgery.

Problems are rare but can include:

  • infection
  • bleeding
  • blood clots in the legs (DVT)
  • leak at the anastomosis
  • scar tissue in the abdominal cavity (adhesions)

Top resources