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Colorectal Cancer Prognosis

A prognosis is a prediction as to the outcome of a disease. Many factors can affect a person's prognosis for colon cancer, such as the type, location, and stage of the cancer. Other factors that may influence the outcome include the patient's age, general health, and response to treatment. A doctor also will consider statistics from many other cases; however, no one can know for sure what the exact outcome will be.

What Is a Colorectal Cancer Prognosis?

People facing colorectal cancer are naturally concerned about what the future holds. Understanding the disease and what to expect can help patients and their loved ones:
  • Plan treatment
  • Think about lifestyle changes
  • Make decisions about their quality of life and finances.
Many patients want to know their prognosis with colorectal cancer. They may ask their doctor or search for statistics on their own.
A prognosis gives an idea of the likely course and outcome of a disease -- that is, the chance that a patient will recover or have a recurrence (return of the cancer).

Factors Affecting the Prognosis for Colorectal Cancer

Many factors affect a person's colorectal cancer prognosis. Some of the most important elements are the type and location of the disease and the stage (the extent to which the cancer has metastasized, or spread).
Other factors that may affect the prognosis include the person's:
  • Age
  • General health
  • Response to treatment.
When doctors consider a person's prognosis with colorectal cancer, they carefully weigh all the factors that could affect that person's disease and treatment, and then try to predict what might happen. The doctor bases the determination on information researchers have collected over many years about hundreds, or even thousands, of people with cancer. When possible, the doctor uses statistics based on groups of people whose situations are most similar to that of an individual patient.
The doctor may speak of a favorable colorectal cancer prognosis if the disease is likely to respond well to treatment. The prognosis may be unfavorable if the cancer is likely to be difficult to control. It is important to keep in mind, however, that a prognosis is only a prediction. The doctor cannot be absolutely certain about the outcome for a particular patient.
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Information on Colorectal Cancer

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