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Colorectal Cancer: Recovery

Jessica Evert, MD, edited by Benjamin McDonald, MD

According to the National Cancer Institute the average five-year survival rate for early stage colorectal cancer is approximately 92% while the average five-year survival for someone with late stage cancer is closer to 50%.  However, it is important to remember that early identification of colorectal cancer is critical in achieving the best outcomes. The prognosis (outlook) for persons with cancers identified while in an early stage of their development is generally good. Correspondingly, the prognosis is not as good for those who do not enter treatment until the disease is advanced.

Assuming radiation and/or chemotherapy is not involved and ongoing, and that surgical procedures are successful in eradicating cancer, people will generally fully recover after approximately two months, thereafter being able to resume normal occupational functioning. Careful attention to preventative screening (for future incidences of colorectal cancer), and making changes to your lifestyle so as to minimize your cancer risk will be vital in keeping yourself cancer free.

Patients whose treatment regimens required a colostomy procedure will likely experience post-surgery adjustment issues. Depression and feelings of self-loathing or social unacceptability are common. It is a good idea to seek out help from support groups, therapists, family and friends during the post-operative recovery period.