1 AnswerColon cancer is more common than rectal cancer, says Joseph Thornton, MD, a colorectal surgeon at Sunrise Hospital. In this video, he adds that treatment can be simpler for colon cancer, often without chemotherapy or radiation.
1 AnswerHealthyWomen answeredA histologic grade refers to how much tumor cells resemble normal cells when viewed under the microscope. The grading scale usually ranges from 1 to 3. Grade 1 tumors are composed of cells that closely resemble normal ones. Grade 3 tumors contain very abnormal-looking and rapidly growing cancer cells.
1 AnswerRealAge answered
Find out as much as you can about your cancer. Research on the Internet for successful treatments, new treatments, and experimental treatments. Learn all you can about your condition so that you can ask the right questions during your doctor visits. Find out what other people with your cancer have tried successfully. Find out what you can do to support your medical treatment at home. Some of the information you find online may be difficult to interpret or may not apply to you, so be sure to print the information and talk to your doctor about what you find.
3 AnswersThe caregivers of patients with cancer are often overlooked by healthcare providers, family, and friends. Caring for an ill partner is stressful and difficult. Both you and your partner need support, encouragement, and attention to physical and emotional well-being.
What you can do for yourself as a partner of a cancer patient:
1. Make caring for yourself a priority. Keep your own doctors’ appointments, rest, and try not to skip meals or overeat. Exercise regularly to help relieve stress.
2. Realize that feeling angry or resentful is normal. Discuss your feelings with someone you trust, and don’t feel guilty. It is exhausting, physically and emotionally, to care for a partner being treated for cancer.
3. Schedule time for the hobbies and leisure activities you enjoy. You will be a better caregiver if you take time for yourself. Ask friends to fill in for you at home when necessary.
4. Plan a vacation with your partner. It helps to have something to look forward to during or after treatment.
5. Talk to friends who have been caregivers. It helps to share feelings and get advice from someone who has lived through what you are experiencing.
1 AnswerYour sex life will likely be impacted by your partner’s diagnosis. Here's how you can help as a partner:
1. Empathy. Understanding the emotional and physical effects of treatment will help you find solutions.
2. Communication is critical. Share your concerns and fears. Tell your partner that you find him or her desirable but are willing to wait until he or she is ready to resume sexual activity.
3. Be patient. Most of the effects of treatment for cancer lessen when treatment ends. At that time your partner will feel better physically and emotionally. Keep in mind that every patient recovers at his or her own pace and some patients continue to experience lack of desire. This is normal.
4. If you and your partner were experiencing problems in your sex life before the cancer diagnosis, this may be a good time to seek professional help. Talk to the doctor or the hospital social worker for a referral.
5. If your partner is a gynecologic-oncology patient and experienced orgasm before her diagnosis, she will in all likelihood experience orgasm again. Some women report their orgasms feel somewhat different but they do occur. The use of vaginal lubricants and moisturizers can help remedy vaginal dryness. Regular vaginal intercourse, if and when your partner is ready, helps stretch the vagina following radiation. If you are not ready for vaginal intercourse, vaginal dilators have the same effect. In general, you will not feel a difference during intercourse if your partner had a hysterectomy.
1 AnswerAs with any serious surgery, patients typically suffer from fatigue and pain following surgery. The doctor may prescribe pain medications and other treatments, and the body’s natural healing powers should reduce the side effects over time. How you can help your partner:
1. Talk with your partner about visitors. Most patients are uncomfortable following surgery, and it can be difficult to receive visitors. Find out what your partner’s preferences are before going into surgery, and confirm this following surgery.
2. Before you leave the hospital, make sure you have all necessary prescriptions and phone numbers to call if your partner has questions or concerns.
3. When your partner returns home, monitor his or her pain medications, and don’t let your partner perform any physical activity that the doctor has advised against (e.g., cooking, cleaning, shopping, etc.). This is one of the exceptions to the rule about asking how much your partner wants to do .
4. During the weeks following surgery, your partner will need your physical and emotional support. The physical support you can provide includes helping with meals, driving, childcare, and other household tasks. On the emotional side, being a supportive and reassuring presence can help in many ways. Assure your partner that you will be there for him or her. Your partner’s emotions may include anxiety, fear, and feeling out of control and overwhelmed. Being a good listener is especially helpful at this time. Many patients adjust to the stress of surgery by telling and retelling the story of the surgical experience.
5. Most patients do not need home health nursing following surgery, and insurance will only pay for nurses to come to your house if your doctors believe it is a “medical necessity.” If you have concerns or questions, or think your partner will need a nurse or special equipment at home, speak to the social worker before your partner is discharged from the hospital.
2 AnswersAs a partner, your job as an advocate includes four tasks:
1. Speaking up for and supporting your partner when dealing with doctors, nurses, and the hospital bureaucracy when he or she needs your help. Ask your healthcare professionals to a) limit their use of medical jargon, b) give you enough time to discuss your concerns and ask your questions, and c) explain things to you so they are perfectly clear. This new world you have found yourself a part of speaks a language you may not understand. Do not leave the hospital or doctor’s office until you understand what has been said.
2. Acting as a go-between with family and friends. Be your partner’s advocate by screening calls and visits if he or she wishes. Tell friends and family what is helpful and what is not.
3. Making a list of questions before doctors’ appointments and understanding the answers. If necessary, write down the answers for easy reference in the future. Stay organized and keep a calendar noting important dates and events.
4. Accessing useful information about the diagnosis and treatment process. You and your partner will likely access the Internet for information. While there are many useful sites, there is also a great deal of inaccurate and out-of-date information that may both misinform and frighten you. Be cautious when you visit a website; make sure the source is reliable. You are unique, so avoid trying to compare your story to someone else’s experience.
1 AnswerTransportation may be an issue for some patients. As a supportive partner, handling the logistics of transportation to and from treatment sessions and doctors’ visits can be very helpful. If driving is not an available option, you may live in a city with wheelchair-accessible buses or private or hired cars. Patients unable to use public transportation (e.g., trains or buses) may be eligible for ambulette or van service. Your social worker can help you figure out which option best suits your needs.