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Colorectal Cancer Treatment

Surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation therapy are some of the treatment options used for colorectal cancer. Surgery is the most common form of treatment. Healthcare professionals (such as gastroenterologists) consider factors such as the type and stage of the cancer, as well as the patient's overall health, when making recommendations about the choice of treatment.

An Overview of Treating Colorectal Cancer

Many people with colorectal cancer want to take an active part in making decisions about their medical care. They want to learn all they can about the disease and their colorectal cancer treatment choices. However, shock and stress after the diagnosis can make it hard to think of everything they want to ask the doctor. It often helps to make a list of questions before an appointment.
To help remember what the doctor says, people may take notes or ask if they may use a tape recorder. When they talk to the doctor, some people also want to have a family member or friend with them to take part in the discussion, to take notes, or just to listen.
The doctor may refer a person with colorectal cancer to a specialist, or the patient may ask for a referral. Specialists who treat colorectal cancer include the following:
  • Gastroenterologists (doctors who specialize in diseases of the digestive system)
  • Surgeons
  • Medical oncologists
  • Radiation oncologists.

Getting a Second Opinion on Colorectal Cancer Treatment

Before starting treatment for colorectal cancer, people with the disease might want a second opinion about their diagnosis and treatment options. Some insurance companies require a second opinion; others may cover a second opinion if the patient or doctor requests it.
It may take some time and effort to gather medical records and arrange to see another doctor. In general, taking several weeks to get a second opinion does not make treatment less effective. But in some cases, however, people with colorectal cancer need immediate care.
There are a number of ways to find a doctor for a second opinion, including:
  • Asking your doctor for a recommendation
  • Visiting the websites of the American Medical Association (AMA) or the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) to check the credentials of different doctors
  • Discussing the matter with family and friends and getting their input
  • Checking with local hospitals to see if they have a doctor referral service.


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