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Colorectal Cancer

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Colorectal cancer starts in the large intestine (colon) or rectum. The cancer may begin as a small polyp (lump of tissue) that grows inside your intestine.

Colon Polyps

DISCHARGE INSTRUCTIONS:

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) for any of the following:

  • You suddenly feel lightheaded and short of breath.
  • You have chest pain when you take a deep breath or cough.
  • You cough up blood.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
  • You vomit multiple times and cannot keep any food or liquids down.
  • You see blood in your bowel movements.

Call your doctor or oncologist if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You cannot control your diarrhea or constipation.
  • Your pain is worse or does not go away after you take your pain medicine.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Medicines:

You may need any of the following:

  • Antinausea medicine may be given to calm your stomach and prevent vomiting.
  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Get screened as directed:

Your healthcare provider may want you to have a yearly colonoscopy to check for colorectal cancer. Screening is recommended for all men and women aged 50 to 75 years. You may need screening before 50 or after 75 years if you have a family history of colorectal cancer.

Do not smoke:

Nicotine can damage blood vessels and make it more difficult to manage your colorectal cancer. Smoking also increases your risk for new or returning cancer and delays healing after treatment. Do not use e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco in place of cigarettes or to help you quit. They still contain nicotine. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help quitting.

Eat healthy foods:

Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. You may need to change what you eat during treatment. Do not eat foods or drink liquids that cause gas, such as cabbage, beans, onions, or soda. A dietitian may help to plan the best meals and snacks for you.

Limit or do not drink alcohol as directed:

Men should limit alcohol to 2 drinks per day. Women should limit alcohol to 1 drink per day. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor.

Drink liquids as directed:

Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. If you have nausea or diarrhea from cancer treatment, extra liquids may help decrease your risk for dehydration.

Exercise as directed:

Ask about the best exercise plan for you. Exercise may improve your energy levels and appetite.

Follow up with your doctor or oncologist as directed:

You will need to see your oncologist for ongoing treatment and follow-up. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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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 (Discharge Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Symptoms and treatments

Mayo Clinic Reference

Medicine.com Guides (External)

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.