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Colorectal Cancer

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Colorectal cancer starts in the large intestine (colon) or rectum.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

You may bleed more than expected or get an infection after surgery. You may get a blood clot in your leg. The clot may travel to your heart or brain and cause life-threatening problems, such as a heart attack or stroke. Even with treatment, you may still have cancer, or the cancer may return. Colorectal cancer that is not treated can spread to other parts of your body, such as your liver. Without treatment, colorectal cancer can be life-threatening.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Nutrition:

It is important that you get good nutrition when you have cancer. Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods may help you feel better and have more energy. If you have trouble swallowing, you may be given foods that are soft or in liquid form. Ask your caregiver about any extra nutrition you may need, such as nutrition shakes or vitamins. Tell your caregiver if you have problems eating, or if you feel sick after you eat.

Medicines:

  • Antinausea medicine: This medicine may be given to calm your stomach and prevent vomiting.

  • Pain medicine: You may be given a prescription medicine to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.

Tests:

  • Blood tests: A sample of your blood may be taken to check for a chemical called carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA). CEA in your blood is a sign that you have colorectal cancer.

  • Abdominal ultrasound: An ultrasound uses sound waves to show pictures on a monitor. An ultrasound may be done to find the location of the tumor.

  • Barium enema: A barium enema is an x-ray of the colon. A tube is put into your anus, and a liquid called barium is put through the tube. Barium is used so that caregivers can see your colon better on the x-ray film.

  • Colonoscopy: A colonoscopy is a test that is done to look at your colon. A tube with a light on the end will be put into your anus, and then moved forward into your colon.

  • Chest x-ray: This is done to look at your lungs and see if the cancer has spread.

  • CT scan: This test is also called a CAT scan. An x-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of your abdomen. The pictures may show the tumor and if the cancer has spread. You may be given a dye before the pictures are taken to help caregivers see the pictures better. Tell the caregiver if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye.

  • MRI: This scan uses powerful magnets and a computer to take pictures of your abdomen. An MRI may show the tumor and if the cancer has spread. You may be given dye to help the pictures show up better. Tell the caregiver if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the caregiver if you have any metal in or on your body.

  • Bone scan: This test uses an x-ray machine with a computer to take pictures of your bones. Caregivers may use this to see if the cancer has spread to your bones. This test may be done if you have bone pain.

Treatment:

  • Surgery: Surgery to remove part of your colon, rectum, or lymph nodes may help stop the cancer from spreading.

  • Targeted therapy: This is medicine that is used to target specific cancer cells and kill them.

  • Chemotherapy: This medicine, often called chemo, is used to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy may also be used to shrink the tumor or lymph nodes before surgery. Once the tumor is smaller, surgery can be done to remove the cancer.

  • Radiation therapy: This therapy is used to kill cancer cells with x-rays or gamma rays. Radiation may be given after surgery to kill cancer cells that were not removed. It may be given alone or with chemotherapy.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Colorectal Cancer (Inpatient Care)

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