The doctor develops a treatment plan to fit each patient’s needs. Treatment for colorectal cancer depends on the size and location of the tumor, the stage of the disease, the patient’s general health, and other factors.
Most people who have cancer want to learn all they can about the disease and their treatment choices so they can take an active part in decisions about their medical care. It helps to make a list of questions before seeing the doctor. Here are some questions you may want to ask before treatment begins:
- What is the stage of the disease?
- What are my treatment choices? Which do you suggest for me? Why?
- Would a clinical trial be appropriate for me?
- What are the expected benefits of each treatment?
- What are the risks and possible side effects of each treatment?
- What can be done about side effects?
- What can I do to take care of myself during therapy?
- What is the treatment likely to cost?
Patients and their loved ones are naturally concerned about the effectiveness of the treatment. Sometimes they use statistics to try to figure out whether the patient will be cured, or how long her or she will live. It is important to remember, however, that statistics are averages based on large numbers of patients. They cannot be used to predict what will happen to a particular person because no two cancer patients are alike.
People should feel free to ask the doctor about the chance of recovery (prognosis), but even the doctor does not know for sure what will happen. When doctors talk about surviving cancer, they may use the term remission rather than cure. Even though many patients recover completely, doctors use this term because the disease can come back.