Life After Colon Cancer: Your Recovery Guide

It’s the disease that people don’t like to discuss. Colon cancer is deadlier than any other cancer except lung cancer. Yet, the facts about it are not readily known. If you have colon cancer, you may have to educate others as well as yourself. One topic you’ll have to address is life after colon cancer. 

Staging and Treatment

Colon cancer is also known as colorectal cancer. Colon cancer and rectal cancer are very similar, but the location of the cancer influences treatment. The site of your cancer is just one factor impacting your life after cancer.

Your recovery from colorectal cancer will depend upon the stage of cancer and how it was treated. Sometimes very early colon cancer can be removed using a colonoscope. Most cases will require more aggressive treatment that will have distinct side effects:

Surgery. If you have surgery for your colon cancer, you are likely to lose around one-third of your colon. That can cause digestive problems. You may need to restrict your diet or take anti-diarrheal medications. You may worry about going out for fear of accidents. With time, these symptoms usually improve.

Colostomy. If you have surgery and the doctors can’t reconnect the cut ends of your colon, you may need a colostomy. The doctors will create an opening in the abdominal wall and attach a bag to collect waste. Colostomy bags can be challenging to adjust to, but your medical team can help.

Chemotherapy. If you have chemo for your colon cancer, you may have short-term or long-term side effects. Nausea is probably the most common but usually goes away after treatment. Peripheral neuropathy causes pain, numbness, or tingling in your hands and feet and is often more long-lasting than nausea. Your use of your hands and your walking may be affected. Always tell your doctor if you experience neuropathy.

Radiation. Most of the time, radiation is not used for colon cancer. Doctors may use radiation treatments for rectal cancer. Radiation can affect the bowel, bladder, and sexual organs. Your medical team can tailor advice to your situation.

Your Survivorship Plan

Although it is a cause for celebration, being a cancer survivor presents its own challenges. With your care team, you can work out:

  • Doctors for follow-up and for screening tests and exams
  • The schedule you need for screening tests and exams
  • The symptoms which mean you should call the doctor, and which ones can you deal with on your own

Work on Wellness

Being a cancer survivor is stressful. You may go back to work and take up family responsibilities once again. You’ll probably worry that your cancer will come back. Many cancer centers offer resources to help you deal with the mental and psychological effects of cancer. Counseling and support groups are common options for cancer survivors.

Another way to cope with anxiety is to focus on improving your overall wellness. A more healthful diet could make you feel better and reduce your chances of having another bout with cancer. Exercise is great for mental and physical health. Talk to your doctor about the lifestyle changes that are right for you.

At Nevada Surgery and Cancer Care, we know that your cancer journey doesn’t end when you complete treatment. Cancer care with a compassionate touch is our specialty. Our team can provide treatment and guide your life after colon cancer. Contact us for more information.