What Happens After a Colorectal Cancer Diagnosis?

It's normal to have a lot of questions in those first few days and weeks after a colorectal cancer diagnosis. The Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers team is here to help you understand who is on the team and prepare for your first medical oncology appointment. 

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Choosing Your Colorectal Cancer Care Team

To help make treatment decisions about your colorectal cancer, it’s helpful to first consult with a medical oncologist. As a patient of Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers, you will have access to our colorectal cancer specialists at any of our locations across Colorado, including Boulder, Colorado Springs, and Denver.

While surgery may seem like the logical first step, some cases can benefit from a different approach. Visiting with the medical oncologist first will help determine the best treatment for your particular situation. 

Download our free guide for newly diagnosed colorectal cancer patients.

Find a colorectal cancer specialists

 

 

Who is Part of the Colorectal Cancer Care Team?

Colorectal Cancer Treatments

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Non-Surgical Treatments

Typically, the choice of colorectal cancer treatments depends on the location of the tumor in the colon or rectum and the stage of the disease.

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Surgery for Colorectal Cancer

The right surgery for each patient varies based on the stage of cancer. Learn more about the various colorectal cancer surgeries.

Can I Wait to Make Decisions About My Treatment?

It's important to make good, informed decisions without delay. However, you shouldn't act so fast that you miss opportunities to listen to your doctor's recommended cancer treatment plan and address any questions or concerns that you may have. Your first step is to schedule an appointment with a gastrointestinal or colon cancer specialist.

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Free Guide for Newly Diagnosed Colorectal Cancer Patients

Get helpful tips from the RMCC team on what to expect and how to prepare your mind and body for colorectal cancer treatment. Tips for your family too! 

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Understanding Colorectal Cancer

Every colorectal cancer patient will receive a personalized treatment plan based on quite a few different factors. Here are several important aspects of creating a colorectal cancer treatment plan.

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Types of Colorectal Cancer & Stages

Colorectal cancer is a collective term used to describe cancer that starts in the colon, rectum, or both. Knowing the stage of the cancer will help the care team at Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers.

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Colorectal Cancer Clinical Trials

Colorectal cancer clinical trials help develop new treatment options and allow many patients to receive newly developed therapies or investigational drugs not yet available outside the study. 

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Colorectal Treatment Side Effects

Colorectal cancer side effects can vary from person to person, depending on the type of treatment. While every individual is unique, there are some common side effects that people with colorectal cancer often face.

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Getting Ready for Your First Appointment

The first oncology appointment is often the most difficult one, so we recommend that you take a relative or friend with you as a support partner. Not only will they be there to provide emotional support, but they can also listen and help take notes on all the information you will be receiving. For more information about your first visit with a Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers oncologist, visit our New Patients’ webpage.  

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Keep a Notebook

As a cancer patient, you’ll receive a lot of information from your oncologist— much of which can be hard to remember. To stay organized, we suggest getting a notebook to keep a record of your important information. This can include how you’re feeling and what medicines or supplements you’re taking, to any questions, thoughts, or observations you have regarding appointments and procedures. Try to put a date on everything you write down to keep your thoughts and notes organized. 

If audio recordings on your phone work better for you, that’s fine too. Just pick one method and commit to using it regularly. Having information well documented can help keep the lines of communication open between you and your doctors. 

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Ask Questions to Help
You Make Decisions

  • Information about any genetic connection your family members may need to consider
  • Your lifestyle (diet, exercise, rest, stress)
  • What to expect during your future appointments
  • Diet and nutrition recommendations. Are there any natural supplements I can or can’t take?
  • Who is involved in the cancer care team?
  • What are my colorectal cancer treatment options, goals, and side effects?
  • Are there any activities to avoid? How about any that you should add to your routine?
  • Are clinical trials an option?
  • Is there access to supportive care?
  • What time frame do I have to make treatment decisions?

Other Questions to Ask About Colorectal Cancer 

When you receive a colon cancer diagnosis, there are some questions you should ask your cancer care team to help better understand your new diagnosis and what to expect during your cancer treatment. The cancer specialists at RMCC recommend that you ask your oncologist the following questions. You can write these questions into your cancer notebook:

  • Is it colon cancer or rectal cancer?
  • Will I need more tests?
  • Will I need a colostomy bag? Will it be permanent?
  • Do I need to change my diet?
  • Will cancer treatment affect my daily life? 
  • What are the treatment options for my colon or rectal cancer?
  • What are the side effects of these treatment options? 
  • Does my colorectal cancer treatment plan include surgery?
  • Do my siblings or children have an increased risk of colon or rectal cancer?
  • Should I exercise during chemotherapy or radiation treatments?
  • Will I need to see other medical specialists as part of therapy?

Should You Get a Second Opinion?

Feeling confident about your colorectal cancer diagnosis is extremely important, so many patients choose to get a second opinion before beginning a specific treatment plan. Our physicians provide many second opinions on both colorectal cancer diagnosis and treatment options at Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers. Many insurance companies will cover a second opinion assessment, but it is still good to contact your insurance provider for verification of coverage. 

Stories from Actual Patients

Read the personal accounts of RMCC patients who completed colorectal cancer treatment. 

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No Known Risk Factors: A Patient’s Journey Through Stage 3 Colon Cancer Treatment

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From Colon Polyps to Incurable Cancer to Becoming Cancer Free

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Colon Cancer Patient Proves ‘Stage Four’ Does Not Mean ‘Terminal’

Resources for Patients:
You're Not Alone

Through this difficult time, the team at Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers is here to help you every step of the way. Our entire team is dedicated to assisting patients with every aspect of the treatment process from finances to support groups and more.