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  • Writer's pictureThe After Cancer

Colorectal cancer: what you need to know

A cancer patient in a appointment with his oncologists reviewing his cancer treatment plan and supportive care.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. However, with early detection and treatment, the survival rate for colorectal cancer is high. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, it’s important to understand the disease and the available treatments.

Colorectal cancer symptoms and diagnosis

Colon cancer and rectal cancer share many symptoms, which include changes in bowel habits, blood in the stool, abdominal pain, fatigue, and unexplained weight loss. It’s important to note that these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, but if you experience any of them, it’s important to talk to your doctor.

The most common screening method for colon and rectal cancer is a colonoscopy. During a colonoscopy, a doctor uses a long, flexible tube with a camera on the end to examine the colon and rectum for polyps or signs of cancer.

Colorectal cancer treatment options

Treatment for colorectal cancer depends on the stage of the cancer and the patient’s overall health. Surgery is often the primary treatment for early-stage colorectal cancer, and it may be combined with chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

For advanced-stage colorectal cancer, chemotherapy and targeted therapy may be recommended. Immunotherapy may also be an option for certain types of colorectal cancer.

Life after colorectal cancer

After treatment for colorectal cancer, many patients are able to return to their normal activities. However, some may experience long-term side effects, such as bowel or sexual dysfunction, or the need for an ostomy bag.

It’s important for survivors to take care of their mental and physical health, which may include counseling or support groups, a healthy diet, and regular exercise.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, know that there are many resources available to you. Talk to your doctor about your options and reach out to cancer support groups for additional help and support.


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