Diagnosed with Cancer? Build a Relationship with Your Care Team
Most colorectal cancer occurs due to lifestyle and increasing age with only a minority of cases associated with underlying genetic disorders. It typically starts in the lining of the bowel and if left untreated, can grow into the muscle layers underneath, and then through the bowel wall. The risk of developing colon or rectal cancer increases with age, as does the occurrence of most cancers. The good news is, colorectal cancer is a slow growing cancer and if detected early has a 90 percent survival rate. So, why do so few people have colon cancer screening tests?
Many people avoid these tests due to embarrassment, but they shouldn’t, especially those over age 50. Globally, cancer of the colon and rectum is the third leading cause of cancer in males and the fourth leading cause of cancer in females.
Colon cancer at a glance
Colorectal cancer is a malignant tumor arising from the inner wall of the large intestine. Risk factors for colorectal cancer include heredity, colon polyps and long standing ulcerative colitis. Obesity is also a factor. Most colorectal cancers develop from polyps. Removal of colon polyps can prevent colorectal cancer. Colon polyps and early cancer usually have no symptoms; therefore regular screening is important.
Build a relationship with your care team
Having a solid patient/physician relationship may seem like a luxury, but for those who are being treated for cancer it’s a necessity. Many people living with cancer are unsure how to work with their health care team to achieve this relationship.
“Getting an accurate diagnosis and seeking out the best disease management often involves the expertise of a multi-disciplinary health care team, that can include a primary care physician, pathologist, oncologist and surgeon,” says Dr. Jeffrey D. Wayne, fellow of the American College of Surgeons, and an associate professor in the department of surgery at Northwestern University. “In addition to proper medical care and treatment, it is also important for every patient to seek emotional support. Family, friends and online patient resources can make a significant and positive impact on a patient’s outlook.”
What cancer patients should know
•Be informed. Patients and family members can find information on colorectal and other cancers through the National Cancer Institute (www.cancer.gov), the National Institutes of Health (www.nlm.nih.gov), the American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org) and many other websites.
•Allow yourself time. Being diagnosed with cancer can be overwhelming, making it difficult at the beginning to process information provided by a doctor.
•Voice your concerns. If you are worried about something specific, share it with your doctor, who may provide additional guidance.
•Keep a journal. It can help to write down physical and emotional feelings, treatments received, side effects and questions you want to ask at your next visit. The Cancer Support Community’s Frankly Speaking About Cancer Treatment booklet is available free at www.thewellnesscommunity.org.
•Understand your health care team. When it comes to treatment, keeping track of who is handling what can be stressful. Work with the doctor to identify a health care “captain” who will be the patient’s go-to person during treatment and beyond.
“By narrowing these gaps and overcoming misconceptions, we may be able to improve the overall quality of the experience for cancer patients from the time of diagnosis through treatment and beyond,” says David Henry, M.D., a hematologist/oncologist and clinical professor of medicine, Pennsylvania Hospital. “But patients and physicians both need the right tools and information to effectively communicate their needs.”
The frequency of colorectal cancer varies around the world. It is common in the western world and rare in Asia and Africa. In countries where the people have adopted western diets, the incidence of colorectal cancer is increasing.
We in America are at the top of the risk list. So, don’t wait! Call your doctor for a screening appointment today. Your family will be glad you did.
Information in this article was provided by ARA Content and MedicineNet.com.