Talking to Your Doctor About Colorectal Cancer
- Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
- Write out your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
- Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
- Don't be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.
- Based on my family and medical history, am I at increased risk for colorectal cancer?
- Are my children or other relatives at higher risk for colorectal cancer?
- What is the stage of my cancer?
- Should I see a surgeon? Medical oncologist? Radiation oncologist? Should these doctors be involved in planning my treatment before we begin?
- What treatments are recommended for me?
- What are the most common side effects associated with these treatment options?
- Will my treatment require a stay in the hospital? If so, for how long?
- What possible long-term effects might occur as a result of the surgery or post-surgical treatment?
- How commonly do these occur? What can be done, if anything, to reduce these effects?
- Will I need a colostomy? Will it be permanent?
- Is this treatment likely to cure my cancer? If not, what treatments are planned to extend my life?
- What is the probability of a recurrence and what treatment(s) are available to me in the event of a recurrence?
- After treatment, what type of follow-up should I have?
- Are there any alternative or complementary therapies that I should consider?
- How will my normal activities change as a result of treatment?
- Can you recommend support groups in the local area with people I can talk to?
- Will my sexual function be affected?
- What side effects should I expect?
- How long will they last?
- Which side effects should I report? To whom should I report side effects?
- What follow-up tests will be done and at what intervals?
- Do you regularly measure CEA (carcinoembryonic antigen) values? What will you do if this increases?
Tips for talking to your doctor. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/healthcare-management/working-with-your-doctor/tips-for-talking-to-your-doctor.html. Updated November 2010. Accessed May 14, 2013.
What should you ask your doctor about colorectal cancer? American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/colonandrectumcancer/detailedguide/colorectal-cancer-talking-with-doctor. Updated: January 17, 2013. Accessed May 14, 2013.
- Reviewer: Mohei Abouzied, MD
- Review Date: 05/2014 -
- Update Date: 05/07/2014 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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