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Colorectal Cancer: Recovery

Jessica Evert, MD, edited by Benjamin McDonald, MD

Average five year survival rates for Colorectal Cancer is approximately 65% but this number does not differentiate between those who are treated early and those treated later on in the disease's progression (ACS, 2008). Early identification of colorectal cancer is critical in predicting whether treatments will end up working. If the cancer is caught in the early localized stage the five year survival rate increases to 90% (ACS, 2008).  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 support from support groups, therapists, family and friends during the post-operative recovery period.