After receiving a gastrointestinal cancer diagnosis, you may wonder what next. There are many decisions to make about the approach to your treatment. Our goal is to address many of your questions directly and prepare you for your first appointment with an oncologist.
We hope this guide answers some of your questions about gastrointestinal (GI) cancers and treatment.
It's common for colorectal cancer to be detected during a colonoscopy. Tissue may be removed and tested to see if cancer cells are present. If cancer is found, you will most likely see an oncologist who is specially trained to handle GI cancers. It's ideal to visit with the medical oncologist before seeing a surgeon in case other treatments are recommended before surgery.
Before your appointment, the oncologist will review your test results including any pathology reports from a biopsy, images, and blood work. Based on what they see, a team will meet and discuss the recommended treatment plan. Your team may include several cancer specialists, including:
After your cancer care team determines what kind of gastrointestinal cancer you have, they will develop your treatment plan. If you have questions or concerns about your diagnosis, make sure you speak with your doctor right away.
Gastrointestinal cancers may present at various stages of development. For example, Stage I stomach cancer is less severe than Stage IV stomach cancer.
Your first appointment with an oncologist can be stressful. We recommend bringing a friend or family member who can provide emotional support and take notes for you. They can listen closely to the doctor's information while you might still be processing the news. Your support system can also remind you of any questions you want to ask that could have slipped your mind.
There will be many details discussed during your consultation with the oncologist. You may feel overwhelmed by everything you need to keep track of and it may be hard to remember it all, so you should bring a notebook to help stay organized. Take notes about your appointment, but also use the notebook to track your symptoms, medications, supplements, and other observations. Date your entries to have an accurate picture of your time.
You should also use your notebook to track the questions and thoughts you have in between your doctors' appointments. In the midst of going from appointment to appointment, it becomes very easy to forget important questions you might have.
If keeping a paper notebook simply does not work for you, consider using an electronic method to keep notes, such as your smartphone or a voice recorder. All you have to do is commit to keeping notes and questions somewhere you can access them regularly.
It is important that you feel confident about your gastrointestinal cancer diagnosis. Many patients do opt for a second opinion before they undergo any treatment plan. Compass Oncology provides second opinions for GI cancer and any related treatments.
Not sure if insurance will cover a second opinion assessment? Contact your insurance provider to ensure that your second opinion coverage is verified.
You can schedule a second opinion with our physicians at one of our Portland-Vancouver offices. Our office locations offer convenience and comfort.
Receiving a cancer diagnosis is difficult, and you may feel alone at first. You aren't. Many people are going through very similar experiences.
The cancer care teams at Compass Oncology provide our patients with assistance every step of the way. We also provide patients with tips and helpful information to get them through their gastrointestinal cancer journey. Community resources are also available to help you through the days ahead. For additional information about cancer diagnosis and treatment, check out our resources for cancer patients.