If you recently learned of a colon cancer or rectal cancer diagnosis (collectively known as colorectal cancer), you're probably full of questions starting with, "What should I do next?" Our goal is to address some of those questions head-on and provide guidance to help you determine your next course of action. We're here to help you be better prepared for your first oncology appointment.
We hope this guide will make your path to colorectal cancer treatment a bit smoother. If you're in the Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington areas our team is available for a consultation.
To help make decisions about your colorectal cancer treatment, it’s helpful to consult with a medical oncologist first. As a cancer specialist, they will be up-to-date on the best way to manage your cancer depending on the location of the colon or rectal cancer, the size of the tumor, and if it’s spread to other areas of the body (also referred to as staging). They are often the lead physician over your cancer treatment process. Many times new patients seek a colorectal surgeon first, which is not always the best first step in treating cancer.
Spending time with a medical oncologist will allow them to develop a plan that would be best for your situation. They also have the benefit of consulting with other cancer specialists on the Compass Oncology team who specialize in various types of colorectal cancer treatments, including surgery, radiation therapy, and others.
Every colorectal cancer patient at Compass Oncology will receive personalized treatment options based on several different factors. Here are the different important aspects of creating the best colon or rectal cancer treatment plan for you.
The stages of colon cancer and rectal cancer are typically expressed as a number on a scale of 0 through IV — with stage 0 representing contained, non-invasive cancers and stage IV representing cancers that have spread. The results of the biopsy and images taken will allow your oncologist to determine the extent of your colorectal cancer. Read more about how oncologists determine the staging of colon and rectal cancers.
Colorectal cancer treatments are based on factors, including the stage of your cancer. It’s important to make informed decisions without delay. With rectal and colon cancers, it’s important to act fast, but not so fast that you miss opportunities to listen to the recommended cancer treatment plan and consider questions you may have. Here are some of the most common colon and rectal cancer treatments.
Our cancer genetic experts can help you and your family determine if they risk developing colorectal cancer. We offer cancer genetic counseling to patients in the Portland, OR, and Vancouver, WA areas. Find out if you are at risk for hereditary colon cancer syndromes and if you should take advantage of the Genetic Risk Evaluation & Testing Program.
As a member of Sarah Cannon Research Institute (SCRI), a joint venture with US Oncology Research, Compass Oncology can provide patients access to the latest colon and rectal cancer clinical trials in the Portland-Vancouver areas. These clinical trials help uncover various new treatment options for colon and rectal cancers and give many patients the opportunity to receive newly developed therapies or investigational drugs not yet available outside the study.
Talk to your colorectal cancer doctor to find out if you are right for one of our cancer clinical trials.
At your first oncology appointment, you are going to get a lot of information in a short period of time.
We strongly suggest that you bring a supportive relative or friend to this oncology appointment. Not only will this person serve as an extra set of "ears" to make sure you don't miss any details, but he or she will also be able to ask questions you may not think to ask and discuss the appointment with you after it's over. For additional information, read our recommendations for your first visit to Compass Oncology.
Here are some useful tips on how you can remember what you're told and keep track of questions you'd like to ask your colorectal cancer specialist.
To stay organized, we suggest getting a notebook to take notes during each appointment and to keep a record of important information. This can include information such as 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 log down.
If a method other than paper works better for you, then commit to using it regularly. Having information written down (and on hand) can help keep the lines of communication open between you and your doctors.
Following colorectal cancer treatment, your doctors will want to monitor you closely. It’s very important to go to all of your follow-up appointments. These visits give your doctor an opportunity to address your questions and concerns, look for treatment-related side effects, and discuss other follow-up treatments that may be necessary.
It is only natural that you want to be absolutely certain that you have colorectal cancer before beginning treatment. It's understandable that you may want to get a second opinion to make sure. There is no harm in doing that, and it will help you feel confident about your diagnosis. Our medical providers at Compass Oncology regularly provide second opinions for patients diagnosed with prostate and other cancers. Most insurance companies will cover a second opinion assessment, but you should always check with your insurance provider to check your coverage before making an appointment.
Watch the video below to learn about the importance of a second opinion for cancer diagnosis and treatment. The oncologists at Compass Oncology are available to discuss your test results, cancer diagnosis, and options for treatment.
We know this is a difficult time, at Compass Oncology our team of oncologists and cancer care specialists is ready to help you every step of the way. We’re here to answer questions and connect you with your needed resources. There are plenty of people that can help you with your cancer treatment journey.