Skip to content

Colorectal Cancer Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Tips for Family and Friends of People With Colorectal Cancer

A person with colorectal cancer is not the only one affected -- family members and friends are also influenced by changes in a loved one's health.

Here are some tips to help you or family and friends cope with a loved one's diagnosis:

Recommended Related to Colorectal Cancer

Who is at Risk?

For the great majority of people, the major factor that increases a person's risk for colorectal cancer (CRC) is increasing age. Risk increases dramatically after age 50 years; 90% of all CRCs are diagnosed after this age. The history of CRC in a first-degree relative, especially if before the age of 55 years, roughly doubles the risk. Other risk factors are weaker than age and family history. People with inflammatory bowel disease have a much higher risk of CRC. A small percentage (<5%) of CRCs...

Read the Who is at Risk? article > >

  • Feel free to ask the doctor questions if you accompany your loved one to his or her appointments.
  • Be prepared for changes in your loved one's behavior and mood. Medications, discomforts, and stress can cause your loved one to become depressed or angry.
  • Encourage your loved one to be active and independent, as much as possible, to help him or her regain a sense of self-reliance and confidence.
  • Be realistic about your own needs. Be sure you are sleeping enough, eating properly, and taking some time off for yourself. It is hard to offer much help when you are exhausted.
  • Don't hesitate to ask other family members and friends for help. They will appreciate the opportunity.

Family members and friends of a person coping with colorectal cancer may also find themselves under a great deal of stress. To reduce your stress:

  • Keep a positive attitude.
  • Accept that there are events you cannot control.
  • Be assertive instead of aggressive. "Assert" your feelings, opinions, or beliefs instead of becoming angry, combative, or passive.
  • Learn to relax.
  • Exercise regularly. Your body can fight stress better when you are physically fit.
  • Eat well-balanced meals.
  • Rest and sleep. Your body needs time to recover from stressful events. Don't rely on alcohol or drugs to reduce stress.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on September 21, 2014

Today on WebMD

Colorectal cancer cells
The right diagnosis is the most important factor.
man with a doctor
Our health check will steer you in the right direction.
 
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
bladder cancer x-ray
Do you know the warning signs?
 
bread
ARTICLE
Colon vs Rectal Cancer
VIDEO
 
New Colorectal Treatments
VIDEO
can lack of sleep affect your immune system
FEATURE
 
Cancer Facts Quiz
QUIZ
Virtual Colonoscopy
VIDEO
 
Picture of the Colon
ANATOMY
Vitamin D
SLIDESHOW
 

WebMD Special Sections