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Colorectal Cancer, Metastatic or Recurrent - Treatment Overview

Your treatment for colorectal cancer that has spread or come back may include:

Colorectal cancer often comes back, even after treatment that seemed successful. Your cancer may return even if you do everything you can to prevent it. If this happens, focus on what you and your doctor can do to treat your symptoms to help you feel better and live longer.

Your treatment will depend on specific information about the cancer, your preferences, and your health.

Some cases can still be cured. When the cancer can't be cured, treatment can help you feel better and live longer.

Pain control

Pain is one of the main concerns of people who have cancer. But cancer pain can almost always be controlled. There are several ways to actionset.gif control your pain, such as using strong medicines like opiates. Or you can have treatments that shrink tumors and block nerve pain.

Supportive care

As your cancer gets worse, you may want to think about palliative care. Palliative care focuses on improving your quality of life—not just in your body but also in your mind and spirit. It may help you manage symptoms or side effects from treatment. It can also help with other concerns you may have when you are living with a serious illness, such as making future plans about your medical care. If you are interested in palliative care, talk to your doctor.

There may come a time when treatments to cure your cancer are no longer working. Or you may decide that you want to spend the time you have left in other ways and only have medical care that keeps you comfortable. If so, talk to your doctor about hospice care.

Hospice care is palliative care for people who are at the end of life, with about 6 months or less to live. Hospice caregivers help to enhance the quality of your remaining life by keeping you as alert and comfortable as possible in a familiar environment with family and friends.

You may also want to:

  • Discuss health care and other legal issues that arise near the end of life with your family and your doctor.
  • State your health care choices in writing (with an advance directive or living will) while you are still able to make and communicate these decisions.
  • Choose a health care agent in case you become unable to speak for yourself.

To learn more about supportive care, see:


WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 29, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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