Your Guide in the Fight

guideinthefight_colon-cancer-resource
A colorectal cancer diagnosis is overwhelming. Fight Colorectal Cancer is here to walk families impacted by colorectal cancer through the journey of the disease. See below for information to help you through your treatment and point you in the right direction of trusted and credible resources. Download an online copy of the book now!


It is important that you understand your diagnosis because your diagnosis determines the treatment you will receive.  Once your doctor tells you that you have colon or rectal cancer, your healthcare team will work together to determine what stage of diagnosis you have.

After you are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, you need to work with a healthcare team that you can rely on. You should find doctors that you respect and can talk with, who don’t make you feel rushed, who answer your questions, and who help you gather information to make thoughtful treatment decisions.

This is a time in your life where there will be lots of information to digest, and sometimes there aren’t clear-cut solutions for you. Your healthcare team can play a valuable role in maintaining and improving your quality of life.

Your treatment team is your best resource for information. But, it’s also easy to lean on “Dr. Google” and search online for information about treatment options, facilities and survival rates. If you research through the Internet, take care to obtain information that is reliable and appropriate for your particular diagnosis.

Your treatment will often include combinations of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. You may receive a standard treatment regimen (combinations that other patients received that proved to offer the best results) or be offered an experimental treatment in a clinical trial. Ideally, you can work with a multidisciplinary team to discuss all of your treatment options and possible combinations.

To keep track of treatments, download our Treatment History worksheet.

Treatment Options by Diagnosis

For additional information, visit the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Guidelines for Patients on treating colon & rectal cancer. The NCCN maintains a library of guidelines for both doctors and patients, based on currently published clinical trials results. Many institutions and physicians follow the approach laid out by these guidelines, and adjust them as appropriate for patients. It is worth looking at the NCCN patient guideline to further understand your diagnosis, treatment, and side effects. Please contact Fight Colorectal Cancer for a copy, or call the Answer Line at 1-877-427-2111.

Talk with your healthcare team about possible side effects. Be prepared and know what to look for and how to manage problems with your healthcare team. Below are the most common side effects experienced by colorectal cancer patients and practical tips for handling them. Not everyone experiences the same side effects, nor do they experience them in the same way.
To keep track of your side effects, download our Side Effects Management Chart and the Medication Management Chart.
It requires a good deal of patience and organization to stay on track with cancer treatment while also balancing your work and home life. Here are some practical tools to help so you can focus less on your medical to-do list and more on enjoying the rest of your life!

Research shows that early identification of emotional distress and follow-up treatment (counseling and support services) helps everyone involved. It’s important to find help if you need it. There are organizations that can help with emotional stress from the diagnosis, insurance hassles or financial assistance, and even with getting to and from your doctor appointments if that’s a problem.

After treatment ends, make sure to celebrate! It’s a huge accomplishment and a victory! Your doctor will want to continue seeing you for follow-up surveillance and care. Colorectal cancer recurrence is most common within the first five years after treatment, so follow-up visits will be more frequent during this time.
If there comes a time when you’ve run out of treatment options, deciding how you will live out the rest of your life is important, for both yourself and for your family.
During and after treatment, or during treatment breaks, life goes on. You still need to check in with your primary care provider, your dentist and any other medical professionals who are involved with your ongoing health. Survivorship care plans can give you a structure to help you take care of your whole self.

 

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