Choosing Your Team

Colorectal cancer is a challenging diagnosis, but there are people to help you through it. You need a team.

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Nobody fights alone. It’s a mantra here at Fight CRC, and we mean it. Colorectal cancer is a challenging diagnosis, but there are people to help you through it. You need a team.

Obviously, you’re going to need doctors and nurses, but you will also need support at home, work, and beyond. Even before any surgery or treatment begins, we recommend lining up as much of your team as possible. Here’s who to consider adding to it.

Health Care Team

If you’ve already received a diagnosis, at least one or two doctors are already involved in your care, if not more. Depending on your cancer stage and treatment plan, there may be many more. Many cancer centers assemble a multidisciplinary team right away, which is a group of doctors specializing in different areas but working together to treat your cancer. Others hospital systems don’t offer this, and it’s on you to quarterback your care.

Remember: Unless you’re in an emergency situation, you get a say in choosing your doctors. If you need help finding a doctor, use the Fight CRC Provider Finder.

Here are the types of professionals who are the first to join your health care team as you fight colorectal cancer. These doctors will work together to create your treatment plan.

Physicians and their nursing teams:

Primary Care Physician (PCP)

Even if they were not involved in your diagnosis, it’s likely your records will be sent to them, and you may need their help in sending referrals to get other doctor appointments.

Gastroenterologist (GI)

A first step for many patients for both non-invasive screening and colonoscopy. GIs play an important role in both diagnosing colorectal cancer and setting follow-up screening schedules.

Looking for a gastroenterologist? Searching using our Provider Finder.

Colorectal surgeons

Specialized surgeons who operate on the colon and rectum; we advise using a colorectal surgeon over a general surgeon for colorectal cancer surgery. If you have liver or lung metastasis, ask if the surgeon has experience in removing mets. The surgeons’ offices can also coordinate ostomy/stoma nurses if you have an ostomy.

Looking for a colorectal surgeon? Searching using our Provider Finder.


Oncologists devise your treatment plan involving chemotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, and radiation. Oncology nurses specialize in helping you manage side effects from treatment, and they may also be ones administering your treatment.

Looking for an oncologist? Searching using our Provider Finder.

Palliative Care

If you’re facing a serious illness, like cancer, a palliative care doctor or nurse may visit you to help you relieve pain, manage side effects, and support your family members.

Referring Physicians

Your physicians often engage other doctors and techs, like radiologists who perform CT, MRI and PET scans, pathologists who examine your tissues, anesthesiologists who get involved during surgery, and Home Health teams.

Additional Services

Additionally, additional services with professionals specializing in the following areas may also be recommended or referred:

  • dermatology
  • diet and nutrition
  • dental health
  • eye health
  • genetic counseling
  • gynecological health
  • hospice care
  • integrative medicine
  • mental health
  • occupational therapy
  • physical fitness
  • physical therapy
  • pulmonology
  • reproductive therapy
  • urology

Anxious about talking to a health care provider? Read our blog for some tips and suggested questions to ask when talking to your doctor.

How do I get a second opinion?

We encourage and advise all patients to get a second opinion when it comes to cancer care, and as early as possible. Second opinions allow you to compare what two or more doctors recommend when it comes to treating your cancer.

Second opinions are helpful at all phases of cancer care—when choosing surgeons, oncologists, therapists, and more.

Oftentimes, doctor recommendations line up and are the same—which can give you immense peace of mind and reassurance in your treatment plan. The second opinion process can also help you learn more about clinical trials.

When recommendations don’t line up, you have options, and you get to choose which route you prefer. You can always ask for a third opinion.

Get advice from Fight CRC advocates about getting a second opinion.

Home Team

In addition to your medical team, you will need a host of people to support you at home and work. Here’s a variety of reasons you’ll need to line up a team of people around home and work to help you:

House support

People to help cook meals, mow the lawn, clean the house, do laundry, move furniture to accommodate any mobility restrictions. This can also include people to help with childcare if you have young children.

Transportation support

You won’t be able to drive yourself to every appointment, especially if sedation is involved. Line up people who can give you rides to/from the hospital, treatment, and other follow-up appointments.

Note-taking and medication management

Most of us aren’t familiar with colorectal cancer and its many terms and acronyms when we’re diagnosed. Having someone take notes for you during doctor’s visits and hospital stays can be very helpful. Additionally, having someone else manage your medication and schedule may also help you stay on track when you’re recovering.

Financial support

Make sure your finances are in good hands in case you are unable to stay on top of your bills. Let someone know how to access your bank accounts and make payments on your behalf. Ask a financial advisor to help you ensure you have your investments set up with beneficiaries, and review and organize any life insurance policies you have—putting the information into one place.

Legal support

Lining up advanced directives and living wills is an important step for any adult, and especially adults with cancer. If you have yet to consider what you want to happen to your physical body and belongings if you’re unable to make decisions yourself, you need to get plans in writing. Sometimes the hospital will offer these services, and other times you may need legal help.

For 1-on-1 support for legal and financial issues, contact our friends at Triage Cancer.

Social workers

Social workers are trained in helping coordinate care and services for patients. Your hospital may offer social worker services. If your friends or family cannot meet your needs, a social worker is a good person to call to find support.

Spiritual counsel

Cancer doesn’t just affect our physical bodies, minds and emotions, cancer also impacts us spiritually. Even those without a professed belief system often find that cancer brings up questions or thoughts about spirituality and what happens after death. If appropriate, include spiritual guides and directors as part of your colorectal cancer support team. A community of people who share the same beliefs who can encourage and empathize with you may become a powerful asset.


Advocacy Team

As advocates, we hope you’ll jump in to Fight CRC; we’re here to provide informed patient support and guide you through the fight. We’ve been there—our community is full of patients and caregivers who’ve been in your shoes. We know what you need when it comes to colorectal cancer support.

We can help you navigate this disease and connect you with inspiring stories of others who “get it.”

Here’s a few immediate ways to connect with us if you’re newly diagnosed:

  • Meetups: Online groups. Hosted 3x month, peer-to-peer support.
  • Community of Champions: Download the app or log on via desktop to find a safe, protected space for you to connect with others who’ve been there.
  • Champion Stories: Read the stories of others, and when/if you’re ready, add your own.
  • Beyond Blue Subscription: We release a FREE magazine each spring and fall with stories of support, information and resources. Subscribe today!

What if I’m young and I have colorectal cancer?

We’re glad you found us if you’re a young adult navigating colorectal cancer. We understand there are so many pressures on you to begin with—adding a colorectal cancer diagnosis doesn’t help!

We have a few spaces just for you:

Is there a number I can call to talk to someone?

Our Patient Education team is happy to speak with you and help answer your questions. Please call us at (703) 548-1225 for resources, or join us on an upcoming Meetup.

Note: This phone line is only for resources and not for emergency care. If you need to speak to someone, or if you need translation services via phone, call our partners at the Cancer Support Community.

Dial 911 for medical emergencies and 988 for the suicide and crisis hotline.

Fight CRC Review

Danielle Ripley-Burgess

VP Disease Awareness & Education

Last Reviewed: February 19, 2024