Patient Q&A

answerline fight crcOur Answer Line is designed provide you with support, answers and resources. If you’ve been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, we can guide you in the right direction.

Below are some of the most commonly asked questions we hear from patients. If you have a question we’ve not answered, or a specific question about your case, please don’t hesitate to call or email our Answer Line and we’ll promptly get back to you!

I’ve just been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, what now?
How do I find financial assistance?
How do I ask for a second opinion?
How do I manage my ostomy?
Is there someone I can talk to who has colorectal cancer? 

Looking for Treatment & Side Effects info?


I’ve just been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, what now?

fight crc When colon cancer or rectal cancer is first diagnosed you will be asked to take blood tests and diagnostic scans, such as CT and PET scans, to determine the exact location of the disease. Then, a surgical biopsy may be performed to remove cancer cells and determine the stage of disease. Staging is a way to define cancer by how fast it’s growing and how far it has spread. Based on this information your medical team will be able to determine which treatments to recommend. Learn as much as you can about your diagnosis before making treatment decisions so you can understand which treatments may (or may not) be helpful for you. If there is any uncertainty about your diagnosis or treatment choices, you’ll benefit from a second or even third opinion.

Call or email our toll-free Answer Line for help with your diagnosis or resources for colorectal cancer patients.

My Colon Coach

Fight Colorectal Cancer partnered with Genomic Health to provide an interactive resource featuring Dr. Richard Goldberg, a medical oncologist and colorectal cancer researcher.   The website and mobile app provides colon cancer patients and caregivers with the appropriate questions to ask before doctor appointments. The questions can be downloaded to your iPhone or Android and carried at all times. The tools were designed to empower you with personalized information about your type of cancer.  It only takes a few minutes to complete the My Colon Cancer Coach questionnaire and you will receive a customized report to help you better understand your cancer and can use the report to discuss next steps with your doctor. You’ll also meet several advocates through videos and blogs and hear their advice to colorectal cancer patients.

Visit My Colon Cancer Coach
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How do I find financial assistance?

A cancer diagnosis can create a financial strain. Fight Colorectal Cancer does not offer direct financial assistance, but we can help guide you to resources. Our Answer Line Associates can provide you with more information about Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs) that help patients who have difficulty paying for prescription medications. They are funded by state governments, charitable organizations, and pharmaceutical organizations. Nearly every pharmaceutical company has a PAP (mostly for the products they produce.) These programs provide discounted or free medications to people who financially and medically qualify; some also help file appeals to insurance companies who deny coverage for certain medications.

Additionally, these resources may assist you with the cost of care:

Frankly Speaking About Cancer Series

Coping with the Cost of Care is a FREE publication by the Cancer Support Community that can help guide you through the financial impact of cancer care.

The Patient Advocate

The Patient Advocate Foundation offers free publications such as the Co-Pay Relief Program Brochure and the Colorectal CareLine Brochure and one-on-one assistance through their hotline: 1-800-532-5274

Additionally, look into the CRC Directory for local and national organizations that can help.

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How do I ask for a second opinion?

Fight Colorectal Cancer strongly recommends that you consider a second, independent opinion from a multi-disciplinary team at a major cancer center:

  • Before beginning treatment
  • If you have a recurrence
  • If you are faced with a major treatment decision

A second opinion may provide new options, the opportunity for a clinical trial or simply a chance to understand your diagnosis more clearly.

  • Locate a resource through NCI Cancer Centers Program
  • Call for an appointment and ask what you need to bring to the appointment
  • Arrange to have all your test results sent to the center
  • Check on costs, insurance coverage, and, if required, precertification of the professional services with your insurance
  • Remember to take someone with you to take notes

Some patients and families are reluctant to seek a second opinion because they don’t want to hurt the feelings of their doctors or make them angry. Think about it like hiring a contractor to do a big home improvement project.  If you’re not a contractor yourself, you get several bids to see what a variety of contractors think.  Similarly, when you are facing major decisions, it makes sense to get more than one opinion. Doctors understand a good health care professional will always encourage you to find another opinion so that you feel comfortable about your care.

Getting a second opinion doesn’t mean you need to change doctors.  If the second opinion results in a different treatment, arrangements can usually be made for you to follow the plan at home.  If you are treated at a major cancer center, you can usually receive follow-up care in your community.
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How do I manage my ostomy?

Most colorectal cancer patients don’t get a permanent ostomy, but many have a temporary ostomy while their colon heals after surgery. To learn more about life with an ostomy, review our Living Life with an Ostomy Webinar. 

Ostomy support depends on the needs of the ostomate. Some ostomy support may include:

  • Visits with an ostomy nurse who can give practical and medical advice
  • A local support meeting or talking with someone with an ostomy
  • Finding clothing to wear that makes you feel good

Below are a handful of resources for ostomates or caregivers looking for helpful resources.

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Is there someone I can talk to who has colorectal cancer?

In one word, yes. Patients and caregivers can choose from online, in-person, telephone, and one-on-one types of support. Some resources are listed below, and many more exist locally. Check out the CRC Directory for more listings. If you need more assistance, contact our Answer Line.

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Reviewed by: Heather Hampel MS, CGC

Masters in Science, Certified Genetics Counselor

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