Work With Your Doctor to Treat Colorectal Cancer

If you’ve been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, take an active role in your treatment. There are many decisions that you and your health care team need to make together. Being involved in your treatment process can give you a sense of control over the situation.

Here are some things you can do to work well with your doctor:

Talk to your doctor about developing a partnership. Let your doctor know you want an active role in your treatment. Most doctors welcome the idea. If your doctor is opposed or dismisses your concerns, think about seeing someone else.

Find out how best to contact your doctor. Some doctors are good with phone calls; others may prefer to get emails. Get your doctor’s contact info and find out how best to be in touch.

Be an active patient. Ask questions about the different treatment options and what the goal of the treatment is. Ask your doctor what he suggests and why. Go over the pros and cons. How long will the treatment take? Do you need to go to a hospital for it? Find out about side effects and recovery. Talk about what-ifs, and think about what matters most to you. If there are things you don’t want to know about, be sure to tell your doctor.

Read about your condition. Learn about the latest treatments available for colorectal cancer. If there's something you don’t understand, write it down and ask your doctor about it the next time you talk. Being informed will help you talk about options with your doctor.

Don't be afraid of getting a second opinion. If you have any doubts about the treatment your doctor suggests -- or if you want to just double-check -- get a second opinion. Most doctors will have no problem with that. The second doctor may suggest the same treatment as the first. But knowing that can make you more confident about the decision.

Be honest. For your treatment to be effective, you need to be honest with your doctor. So make sure the doctor knows everything about your medical condition, even things that you may be embarrassed to talk about. Don’t worry. He’s there to help. Make sure the doctor knows about all medicines, supplements, and herbal remedies you use. If you're skipping medication, tell your doctor and explain why. There might be a solution.


Go over the costs. Talk to your doctor and your insurance company before you start treatment so you aren't surprised later. Be sure you know what will and what won’t be covered by insurance. You may be able to work out a payment plan with your doctor’s office.

Take time for other things. Try not to let your cancer and decisions about treatment consume you. Don’t spend all your time looking for new information. It can overwhelm you, and that makes it harder to make decisions. Spend time with family and friends and do things you enjoy.


WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD on November 04, 2018



American Cancer Society: "What should you ask your doctor about colorectal cancer?" "After Diagnosis: A Guide for Patients and Families."

National Cancer Institute: "Communication in Care -- Patient Version," "Talking to Your Doctor."

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