Factors Impacting Treatment Plans


Building a treatment plan can take time, especially if you have metastatic disease. This is where a second opinion from a major cancer center can be very helpful as you decide which course of treatment to take.

Vocabulary for Treatment Terms

  • Primary treatment is the main treatment for cancer
  • Neoadjuvant treatment is given before surgery
  • Adjuvant treatment follows primary treatment
  • First-line treatment is the first treatment given to patients with metastatic CRC
  • Second-line treatment is given if the first treatment fails

(Terms from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s Guidelines for Patients)

Factors that may affect your Treatment Plan

  • The stage of cancer (whether it has spread through the colon or rectal wall, to lymph nodes, or has spread elsewhere in the body.)
  • Your overall health and how well your body can handle treatment
  • Whether or not the cancer has blocked the colon, or made a hole in the colon wall.
  • Whether or not surgery completely removed the tumor and all metastatic tumors
  • The specific tumor type, defined by biomarkers* (stage IV only)
    *Note: If you have stage IV CRC, you should have a biomarker test. Results from this test will help your doctors to personalize your treatment plan. Do this before you make treatment decisions. Click here to learn more about biomarkers.

Personal Preferences & Treatment Plans

Your choice of treatment may also depend upon your personal preferences:

If you have … Your personal preference might be to… So your doctor may suggest …
Rectal cancer Avoid a permanent colostomy Chemotherapy and radiation before surgery to shrink the tumor so a smaller portion of your rectum can be surgically removed
Stage III CRC Change your lifestyle to help prevent a recurrence Specific diet and exercise modifications you can adopt after treatment
Metastatic cancer that’s spread to the liver Shrink your metastatic disease enough to allow for liver surgery Talking with an experienced liver surgeon who can advise on different techniques to shrink tumors before surgery
A tumor that’s pressing on a nerve and causing pain End the pain Talking with an interventional radiologist to see if targeted radiation or radiofrequency ablation could help

Understanding your treatment options is an essential step.

Content medically-reviewed by members of the Fight Colorectal Cancer Medical Advisory Board, February 2014



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