Colon & Rectal Cancer Diagnosis
You’ve been diagnosed with colon cancer or rectal cancer – what’s next?
If you've recently been diagnosed with colon cancer or rectal cancer (collectively known as colorectal cancer), you're probably full of questions starting with, "Now what?" Read on for answers to some of those questions and guidance to help you determine your next course of action.
How fast should I make decisions?
It’s important to make good decisions without delay. With colon and rectal cancers, it’s important to act fast but not so fast that you miss opportunities to listen to the physician’s recommended cancer treatment plan and consider any questions you may have. The first step is typically scheduling an appointment with a colorectal cancer specialist at an oncology office convenient to you.
What kind of doctor should I see first?
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, size of the tumor and if it’s spread to other areas of the body. They are often the lead physician over your cancer treatment process.
Spending time with a medical oncologist will allow him or her to develop a plan that would be best for your situation. They also have the benefit of consulting with other cancer specialists at New York Oncology Hematology to discuss various types of colorectal cancer treatments including clinical trials and radiation therapy.
During your appointments with your cancer care team, there will be many details discussed about your cancer treatment plan and it can be overwhelming. It can be hard to remember all the important details that you may want or need to know, and often it would be beneficial to be able to refer back to these details, especially for your first few doctor's appointments.
We suggest getting organized from the start by getting a notebook to keep a record. Write down important information, such as how you’re feeling and any medicines or supplements you’re taking. Also, write down your questions and thoughts before you go in for your appointments. This is the place for your notes and answers to your questions that you receive during your appointments. Make sure to put a date on everything you write down. Often, when information is put on paper you can ease your mind, allowing you to focus thoughts elsewhere.
If a written notebook isn’t ideal for you, choose a method you are comfortable using, such as the “Notes” feature on your phone. We also suggest bringing a family member or friend with you to appointments to help take notes, ask questions and be emotional support.
Questions to ask
A colon cancer or rectal cancer diagnosis will raise some questions, from both you and your friends and family. Be sure to use your note-taking system that we discussed above, to take notes on questions as they arise. We’ve included a list of basic questions to ask your oncologist below:
- 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?
- What are the treatment options for my colon or rectal cancer?
- Does my colorectal cancer treatment plan include surgery?
- Will cancer treatment affect my daily life?
- What are the side effects of my treatment options?
- 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 treatment?
Dr. Kambam Talks About Exciting Colon & Rectal Cancer Research
Should I get a second opinion?
A colorectal cancer diagnosis is serious and treatment for this cancer is intensive. At NYOH, we always encourage patients to get a second opinion, to put their minds at ease. If you've been diagnosed by another physician, our New York Oncology Hematology cancer specialists are ready to provide you with a second opinion about your cancer diagnosis. There should never be pressure from an oncologist to start treatment without first getting a second opinion.
Most insurance companies will cover a second opinion assessment, but you should always check your coverage before making an appointment.
Albany Cancer Center
NYOH at Albany Medical Center
Amsterdam Cancer Center
Clifton Park Cancer Center (Saratoga County)
Hudson Cancer Center
Troy Cancer Center
Will my insurance cover my cancer treatments?
Cancer treatment is expensive, but NYOH accepts most major insurance plans. After a colon cancer or rectal cancer diagnosis, you should request a full description of your medical benefits from your insurance provider. At New York Oncology Hematology, our patient benefits representatives are available to meet with you to discuss your medical insurance coverage for cancer treatment.
Are there support groups?
We know this is a difficult time, but you can do this. And, New York Oncology Hematology and our team of oncologists and cancer care specialists are ready to help you every step of the way. We’re here to answer questions and connect you with the resources you need. Visit our Supportive Care page for more information.