FAQs for Colon Cancer Follow Up Care
Question 1: What is expected after surgery for colon cancer?
Answer: One can expect to be in the hospital for a few days up to two weeks depending on the type and extent of surgery. Ehen you are discharged from the hospital, you will able to eat and drink normally as before.
The incision wounds will depend upon the type of surgery, but usually it takes up to a month, at least, before one is fully active and be able to return to work.
The recovery time is very variable and depends on many factors including age as well as previous morbidities.
Your surgical team will also advice you regarding your diet as well as further treatment in the form of chemotherapy if required. The stoma therapist will assist you in managing of your stoma, whether temporary or permanent.
Question 2: Is one cured of the colon cancer?
Answer: If colon cancer is detected at an early stage, more than 40-50% of patients are cured by surgery. However, more treatment is advised if the cancer is not very early and patient falls in stage 2 or 3.
Question 3: Can I develop another colon or rectal cancer?
Answer: Yes as evidence shows that a patient who has developed one cancer may be at a slightly greater risk than the rest of the community of developing a second cancer. Thus your surgeon will recommend a schedule of “follow-up”. This means that you will be called periodically over the next years for exam or tests, thus detecting a recurrence at a very early stage.
Question 4: How frequently I will have to see my surgeon?
Answer: There will be an early post-operative visit to the clinic, details of which shall be given to you at the time of your discharge. This will be usually within first two weeks of being discharged from the hospital. Once all treatments are over, your surgeon will recommend a set schedule of reviews according to the current guidelines and recommendations. These recommendations will involve:
- An opd review at regular and frequent intervals for seven years.
- Yearly review thereafter.
Question 5: Will special investigations be done?
Answer: Yes, for a rectal cancer, the surgeon will examine clinically at each visit. Blood tests will be done quarterly. At the end of the first year after surgery, a colonoscopy as well as a CT scan will be done. Colonoscopy will be repeated every year for the first three years and then at year 6 and 9. If there is any pre-cancerous lesions (polyps) seen on colonoscopy. it will be removed at the time of the examination and sent for biopsy.
A few blood tests can provide information about the likelihood of the cancer returning and thus, your surgeon will require these tests to be done from time to time according to the particular circumstances of your disease.
Further testing may be required, if there is evidence that cancer is returning.
Question 6: For how many years should I continue to be checked for colon cancer?
Answer: We recommend that a patient should be “followed up” by the surgeon according to the schedule, which is for minimum 7 years. Your periodic visits should be planned well in time and one should not miss the appointments.
Question 7: What will happen, if my doctor find that the colon cancer is returning?
Answer: If the colon cancer is recurs and discovered, the patient is subjected to further testing and treatment. Follow up helps in discovering these recurrences very early and thus gives the patient a better chance to be treated successfully.