Receiving a diagnosis of colorectal cancer creates a great deal of confusion in your life, very quickly. This is just one reason why you need to fully discuss your treatment options. Talk to your doctor or treatment team about your treatment goals, methods, risks, benefits, possible side effects and other needs. Ensure you gain answers to your questions before making decisions and ask for more information when you need it.
Getting a second opinion about your colorectal cancer is never a bad idea. A second opinion provides more information and helps you make a more informed decision about your treatment options. If you need help finding a good doctor for a second opinion, ask your treatment professionals for guidance.
If you seek cutting edge cancer treatment not yet widely available, clinical trials provide that option. These are highly controlled studies for research into promising new methods or treatments. In some cases clinical trials offer the only access to new or additional treatments. Taking advantage of clinical trials means doing your own research into the treatment benefits, expectations and risks. Talk to your doctor or others on your treatment team for help finding clinical trials.
There are many complementary and alternative treatments for health conditions, including cancers. These sometimes help people work through symptoms of colorectal cancer or treatment side effects. Complementary treatment methods include dietary changes, vitamins, herbs, acupuncture, massage therapy, meditation and other practices. The key is remembering that complementary methods are meant to complement your current treatment plan, not take the place of traditional medicine.
Alternative treatments take the place of traditional medicine, but remain unproven as effective. Some complementary and alternative methods can be dangerous on their own. Others interact negatively with your doctor’s treatments or prescribed medications. So it is very important to involve your healthcare team in your alternative and complementary medicine treatment decisions.
Some people with a lengthy history of colorectal cancer treatment or those in the end stages of their cancer decide to end their treatment. Many people take time to consider their treatment benefits and risks before deciding their quality of life is not improving anymore. But always remember that there are generally always still options for maintaining or improving your quality of life, even when you decide to stop fighting your cancer.
Some people diagnosed with advanced-stage cancer decide to never start treatment at all. Each person has his or her own reasons for this decision. But you should talk to your healthcare team to ensure you understand all of the benefits, risks and side effects involved in your decision. Deciding to stop treatment does not mean you give up your options for pain or other symptom relief.
Communication with your healthcare team provides the best path to making your cancer treatment decisions. Also available to you are hospital support services, clinical support services, social workers, nurses, financial advisors, nutritionists, rehab professionals and spiritual advisors.