Colon cancer is one of the most frequently diagnosed forms of cancer. Colon cancer affects the tissues in the lower portion of the large intestine. If the cancer occurs in the final few inches of the colon, it is referred to as rectal cancer.
Early Diagnosis and Treatment
If not diagnosed early, colon and rectal cancer can grow rapidly and affect other organs and tissues in the body. Early detection is the best way to catch the disease early before it has a chance to metastasize. Regular colon cancer screenings are recommended beginning at age 50 when your risk starts to increase.
Surgery is typically the first-line treatment for colon cancer. Removing the affected tissue provides the greatest chance of curing the disease. Your doctor may also order radiation and chemotherapy to manage or even slow the progression of the disease.
What is Palliative Care?
Palliative care is specialized medical care that focuses on improving the quality of life of critically ill patients and their families. The goal is to relieve the stress, pain, and other symptoms of serious illnesses such as colon cancer.
Palliative care is appropriate for anyone dealing with a serious illness, regardless of their age or the stage of the disease. Palliative care provides the support of a team of nurses, doctors, social workers, and other specialists who work in conjunction with your other physicians. You can even request palliative care while pursuing curative treatment.
Palliative care specialists help you face the trials of living with rectal or colon cancer. Your palliative care team will help you understand your disease and treatment options and improve your quality of life by helping you relieve your symptoms.
How Can Palliative Care Help Me Treat My Colon Cancer Symptoms?
Colon cancer and its treatment can cause numerous physical symptoms, including tenderness and pain related to surgery. Since your body is unable to eliminate waste normally, you can also experience serious bowel blockages and impactions.
Bowel blockages can be potentially life-threatening and may require additional surgery. The most common treatment is to create a surgical opening, called an ostomy, in the skin that allows the waste to be diverted and removed from the body. This can be both physically and mentally distressing and impact your overall self-image and quality of life.
Chemotherapy has a number of side effects, including:
- Hair loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Mouth sores
- Nerve damage
You can have additional side effects if you also receive radiation treatment, including:
- Upset stomach
- Infertility and sexual dysfunction
- Skin reactions
- Loose bowel movements
Colon cancer has its own set of physical symptoms, including:
- Constipation, diarrhea, and other changes in bowel habits
- Bloody stool
- Abdominal pain and other gastrointestinal symptoms
- Proctitis, which is inflammation of the rectum caused by radiation or tumor
Your palliative care team will use a variety of methods, including diet and nutrition, managing fluid and electrolyte balance, and medical therapies to relieve your pain and other physical and emotional symptoms.
The palliative care team is there to be your advocate. They will help you clarify your treatment goals and assist you in making decisions and communicating with your family and health care providers.
How Do I Arrange For Palliative Care?
All you have to do is ask your doctor for a palliative care referral. In most cases, palliative care is available at home, as an outpatient, or in the hospital.Feel free to contact our organization for more information. We are happy to answer any questions you may have and help you decide if palliative care is right for you.