You've just learned that you have colon cancer. This diagnosis is overwhelming enough to make anyone feel anxious, frightened, and overwhelmed. After getting past the initial shock of your diagnosis, you begin to wonder what life changes need to happen now that I have Colon Cancer? What are the treatments for colon cancer? Is there a life after diagnosis?
Remember You're Not Alone
First, it's essential to realize that you're not alone in this journey. Millions of people every year are diagnosed with some form of cancer, especially colon cancer. When treating your condition, your doctor can help walk you through all your options that fit your medical profile. First, let's take a look at what steps you should take if you've just learned you have colon cancer.
Colon Cancer, Next Steps
As you know, every person is different, and the decision-making process to determine your treatment plan should be a collaborative effort with your doctor.
Be proactive in asking questions, and don't hesitate to bring up any concerns or fears that you may have to discuss openly and do our best to provide you with peace of mind.
Be sure to schedule a follow-up appointment before leaving your doctor's office so that all of your questions get answered. If there are any pressing matters after hours, don't hesitate to call and speak directly to one of our doctors, who will promptly provide you with the information needed.
We want to make very clear at this time that the team at Needham Gastroenterology Associates is here for you! Let us know if there's anything you need from us. We want to make this process as stress-free and comfortable for you as possible.
When you come in for your follow-up visit, our doctors will talk with you about the pathology report results included in your diagnostic package. This report tells them how much cancer is present at different locations along the colon wall. We will also discuss a treatment plan that fits your profile and medical history.
Several treatment options are available depending on where the cancer is located within the colon and how far it has progressed by the time of diagnosis.
Treatment plans may include surgery or chemotherapy, or both. These decisions will be made during your next follow-up appointment with your doctor.
Colon Cancer Surgery
Surgery is typically the first option for colon cancer treatment. Patients' medical profiles determine which type of surgery will remove the tumor during their procedure. Surgery helps prevent colon cancer from spreading. Suppose all of the cancer has not yet reached the lymph nodes. In that case, patients usually only need one surgically removed, and their prognosis can be pretty favorable.
Suppose it's found that your cancer has already spread beyond the colon wall. In that case, chemotherapy may be needed in addition to surgery to help slow down or stop colon cancer cell growth before another surgery can take place.
Colon Cancer Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy works by attacking rapidly-dividing cells so they cannot grow and divide into more cancer cells which could lead to further metastasis of the disease. This treatment is usually reserved for more severe cases of colon cancer.
However, chemotherapy is also an excellent option to have in your treatment plan if you are waiting on surgery or need a more potent radiation dosage than what has been prescribed. Delivering the right amount of radiation directly to the tumor site is an effective option.
Suppose surgery cannot be done because it's been determined that the disease is too widespread. In that case, local treatments such as radiotherapy may be used as a "field" treatment to kill off remaining cells or tumorous tissue not removed during surgery. It may even help slow down the progress of colon cancer before chemotherapy and surgery begin.
Needham Gastroenterology Associates Can Help
Do not forget: Needham Gastroenterology Associates is here for you! If there's anything you need from us at this time, please get in touch with us. We will provide any support we can during this challenging time in your life.