I’ve Been Diagnosed with Colorectal Cancer…Now What?

A colorectal cancer diagnosis can trigger a complex mix of emotions. Fear, sadness, worry, and stress are a few common reactions to this serious news. But amid these tumultuous feelings, it’s important to remember that there is hope. The right treatment plan could help you or your loved one manage this disease and continue to live a full, satisfying life.

So how can you find the right treatment plan? The most important step is to talk to your doctor. A healthcare professional can outline solutions based on your unique circumstances and medical history. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to start that conversation. That’s why we’ve compiled a few questions that will start you down the road to conquering colorectal cancer. 

How can I manage how I’m feeling about this diagnosis?

A colorectal cancer diagnosis can be a traumatic experience. However, there are ways to alleviate the intense emotions that come with this announcement. The Mayo Clinic recommends bringing someone you trust to appointments, as they can ensure you receive and remember necessary information. For coping with the diagnosis itself, the Canadian Cancer Society suggests learning more about colorectal cancer to attain a degree of control over the disorder. Be open with friends and loved ones and be sure to keep up with activities that bring you joy.

Which treatment options are available?

Your doctor can recommend a treatment plan based on your unique medical history and condition. However, there are a few common medications used to manage colorectal cancer. These include biologic medicines, which are made from living organism or their cells rather than with chemicals, and biosimilars, which are similar to – but not exactly the same as – the biologic drug.

What’s the difference between innovator biologics and biosimilars?

Both innovator biologics and biosimilars are engineered from similar sources. Since all biologics are made from living cells, innovator biologics and biosimilars are similar but not identical. However, both innovator biologics and biosimilars undergo the same extensive review from Health Canada to ensure they are safe and effective.

Always remember that the decision about your medications should be made in consultation with your doctor. Ask healthcare professionals about the possible effects of medications, and be prepared to ask relevant questions during appointments.

What should I know about available treatments?

Based on your medical history, a healthcare professional can outline any necessary information about your treatment. In particular, they can identify potential side effects that may arise from your medication and help you take steps to manage them. They will also work with you to prevent any potential reactions that may arise during treatment.

What support options are available?

Every colorectal cancer diagnosis is difficult, but fortunately, there are resources out there to help patients cope. Colorectal Cancer Canada offers a range of support services across the country, including support groups, and other care and control programs exist at the provincial level. Medical specialists can also put you in touch with groups that specialize in cancer assistance within your community. The most important thing to remember is that there is hope, whether you’ve been diagnosed with colorectal cancer or you’re helping a loved one.

After reading this article, are you more likely to speak to your doctor about colorectal cancer treatments?

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