Treatments and Reducing Risks
A good medical team is one of the keys to successful colon cancer treatment and recovery. In addition to your primary care physician an oncologist (a doctor who treats cancer) will often act as the coordinator of your care. Your team might include gastroenterologists (doctor who specializes in the digestive system), surgeons, and radiation specialists, pathologists, and psychologists to help patients cope with this new diagnosis.
The type of treatment you medical team recommends will depend largely on the location and the stage of your cancer. The main types of treatment that can be used for colorectal cancer are:
It’s natural to want to want to learn all you can about your disease and treatment choices. However, sometimes the stress and shock of the diagnosis can be overwhelming. Take notes, bring someone with you, make a list of questions, and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification or suggestions for additional resources. Remember you don’t need to ask all you questions at once. You will have other chances to ask your medical team to explain things that are not clear or ask for more details.
Before starting treatment you may want to get a second opinion before making a decision about your treatment plan. A second opinion can confirm or suggest modifications to your proposed treatment plan, provide reassurance that you have explored all of your options, and answer any questions you may have. Many insurance companies will cover a second opinion if you or your doctor requests it.
Many choose to incorporate complimentary treatments like acupuncture, massage therapy, herbal products, vitamins or special diets, and meditation into their treatment plan. Be sure to discuss this with your treatment team. Things that seem safe, such as certain herbal teas, may change the way standard treatment works.
Questions for your doctor about complimentary treatment:
Colon cancer is highly treatable when found early and preventable with regular screenings. If everybody age 50 and over had regular screening tests as many as 60% of deaths from colon cancer could be prevented. Ask your doctor when to begin screening and what tests are right for you. Be sure to mention any personal or family medical history that may put you into a higher risk category.
Keep in mind that screening is important in healthy people that don’t have symptoms.
In addition to undergoing regular screenings, studies suggest that people can reduce their risk of colorectal cancer by eating a diet that reduces consumption of fat and red meat and includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, having a physically active lifestyle, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol consumption and not smoking.