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Colorectal cancer treatment and surgery options, getting second opinions

Questions to ask as you start your journey

Know your options and be your strongest advocate. Become an ally to your health.

If possible, seek a second opinion from a National Cancer Institute before surgery, chemotherapy or radiation treatment. Research your care center. Is it a community hospital or a teaching hospital? Teaching hospitals are often on the forefront of new research.

Interview more than one surgeon if time allows.


Check to see if your surgeon is a Board Certified Colorectal Surgeon. Studies show the recurrence rate for patients using colorectal surgeons are significantly less than using a general surgeon for colorectal cancer surgery. The more surgeries the doctor performs each year, the better.

Before surgery


Do you have an accessible home or do you need to move things to another room for easier access, upstairs to downstairs? Set this room up before your surgery.

Nest before surgery — clean the house, pay the bills, stock the freezer and cupboards so you can relax and focus on recovery when you get home.

General tips


  • Take a notebook with you to appointments for questions.
  • Enlist a family member or friend to accompany you to appointments for note taking.
  • Review your health and life insurance policies, know your deductibles, copays and coverage.
  • Keep a copy of all your medical records and bring them to appointments.
  • Download a health app to your phone. Put all your medical issues and medicines on it.
  • Ask your doctor about getting a flu shot.
  • Ask yourself “Why will I survive this?” Finding your reason to live can be important motivation.
  • Find ways to de-stress your life.
  • Regardless of stage, this is a good time to create a living will, DNR, etc.
  • Make sure a trusted loved one knows passwords to bank accounts, etc.
  • If childbearing age, ask fertility questions before treatment.
  • Have a list of Babysitters for children where caretakers can see it in case of emergency.
  • Check with your cancer center to see if they offer integrative medicine. Patients that do the best combine complementary therapies such as acupuncture, massage, nutritional supplements, exercise, yoga, reiki with western medicines of chemotherapy. Many integrative oncologists will work closely with your oncologist to ensure that it doesn’t interfere with chemotherapy.
  • Ask a family member or friend to set up a blog on sites like Lotsahelpinghands.com and Caringbridge.org. This makes notifying family and friends easier with medical updates, meals, assist with chores, walking the dog etc. People want to help, make it easy for them.
  • Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint, so save your energy where you can.

Managing the disease


Learn what to expect and how to manage colorectal cancer (colon and rectal cancer) every step of the way. 

Colorectal Cancer Lifestyle


Learn about how important regular exercise and good nutrition is for someone living with colorectal cancer. 

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