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Colon Cancer: Stage IV Standard Treatments

To Help Decide Which Treatment Is Best For You

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Find out how much time you have to make a decision.  Whatever your situation, ask the doctor who diagnosed you how long you have to make a treatment decision. Then take as much time as you need within that time frame before making a decision.

Gather all the information you reasonably can:

If the doctor doesn't have time to answer all your questions during an appointment, ask when you can ask your remaining questions. For example, on what day and at what time should you call? Or, when can you see the doctor again? NOTE: When discussing continence, ask the doctor for his or her definition. (For example, some doctors consider a person  to be continent if he or she wears no pad or if he or she wears a pad that is dry.)

In addition, consider the following resources to help make a treatment decision:

  • National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) publishes the gold standard treatment guidelines for colorectal cancer.  Currently, only a guide for professionals is available. There is currently no patient friendly guide. You can access NCCN guidelines for free at: offsite link
  • Colon Cancer Alliance provides a Colorectal Cancer Profiler Tool to help make treatment decisions.  Click here offsite link.
  • Independent services are available which will research all treatments available for your particular situation (including cutting edge treatments only available through controlled studies known as clinical trials).  Some of the services will even offer their opinion about which treatment is best for you based on your medical condition, medical history and your individual priorities.  For a list of services, click here.

 Survivorship A to Z provides an evaluator to help you compare treatments to decide which one is best for you if necessary. Click here.

Keep in mind that cutting edge treatments are available through clinical trials. Clinical trials are carefully controlled research studies that are done with patients who volunteer for them. At least raise the question with your oncologist about treatments available through clinical trials. Some studies are only open to patients who are "treatment naive" - people who have not yet had therapy for colorectal cancer. To learn about clinical trials, click here.

Get a second opinion. Doctors who specialize in colorectal cancer are used to patients requesting second or even third opinions and will provide the information and copies of tests you need.

For information about a second opinion, including how to get one on a timely basis, from whom, what to do if there are conflicting opinions, and how to pay for them, click here.  

Talk with your partner before making a final decision – if for no other reason because any treatment may lead to some degree of diarrhea and possibly a temporary or permanent ostomy. (Yes, there are methods to dealing with these situations). See “To Learn More.”

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