Being diagnosed with colon cancer, as with any cancer, is scary. It also might be a little embarrassing, since it involves a part of the body that’s distinctly hidden from view. But cancer of the colon is the fourth most common type of cancer.
The disease often begins as a benign (noncancerous), abnormal growth or tumor in the lining of the colon. These growths, which are called intestinal polyps, colorectal polyps, or adenomas, can become precancerous and then cancerous. Common signs and symptoms of colon cancer include blood in the stool, changes in bowel habits, and anemia (low red blood cell count).
When detected early, it’s highly treatable. It’s also preventable with regular colonoscopies starting at age 50.
If you’re diagnosed with colon cancer, don’t be shy about getting the information you need to cope with the diagnosis and the journey it’s going to set you on.
Here are 15 questions to ask your doctor:
- Where is the colon cancer located?
- Is the cancer in more than one place?
- What stage is the cancer and exactly what does that mean?
- Are the lymph glands involved?
- Is this type of cancer life threatening?
- Are there other tests I should have?
- What is your experience in treating people with colon cancer?
- How soon do I need to begin cancer treatment?
- What are the side effects of cancer treatment?
- What are my chances for recovery after treatment?
- Will I need a colostomy?
- How often will I need check-ups after treatment?
- Do I need to change my diet?
- What can I do to stop my cancer from coming back?
- Is colon cancer genetic?
For information on colon cancer, contact the Cancer Association of South Africa toll-free at 0800 22 66 22 or online at www.cansa.org.za.
• Colorectal Cancer Signs & Symptoms. www.cansa.org.za.
• Johns Hopkins Health Alerts: “10 Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Your Colon Cancer Diagnosis.”
• 8 Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Colon Cancer. Written by Kristine Crane. Accessed on 29 July 2015 at http://health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advice/slideshows/8-questions-to-ask-your-doctor-about-colon-cancer/1
• Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D. Publication accessed on 29 July 2015 at http://www.healthcommunities.com/colon-cancer/patient-information/questions-to-ask-doctor.shtml