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Possible Side Effects

Because treatment for cancer often damages healthy cells and tissues, unwanted side effects are common. The side effects of colon cancer treatment depend mainly on the type and extent of the treatment. The side effects may not be the same for each person, and they may change from one treatment session to the next. Before treatment starts, the healthcare team will explain possible side effects and suggest ways to help you manage them.

Treating Colon Cancer in Clinical Trials

Before starting treatment for colon cancer, you may want to consider taking part in a clinical trial. A treatment clinical trial is a colon cancer research study meant to help improve current treatments or obtain information on new treatments. When clinical trials show that a new colon cancer treatment is better than the standard treatment, the new treatment may become the standard treatment.

Follow-up Care

Receiving follow-up care after treatment for colon cancer is important. Even when there are no longer any signs of cancer, the disease sometimes returns because undetected cancer cells remain somewhere in the body after treatment.
As part of follow-up care for colon cancer treatment, your doctor will monitor your recovery and check for recurrence of the cancer. After treatment, a blood test to measure carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA -- a substance in the blood that may be increased when colon cancer is present) may be performed along with other tests to see if the cancer has come back. Checkups help ensure that any changes in your health are noted and treated if needed. Between scheduled visits, you should contact the doctor if you have any health problems.


Treatment recommendations are based on a number of factors, such as the stage of the disease. Remember, there is no single treatment for colon cancer that is "right" for all people. New treatments are available today that were not even imagined a few years ago, and medical researchers continue to look for better ways to treat colon cancer.
You can always ask more than one doctor about your diagnosis and treatment plan. Your doctor can help you arrange an appointment with another specialist. Many health insurance companies pay for second -- and even third -- opinions.
Most important, you should never be afraid to ask questions or to ask people to repeat information or instructions. There are no "dumb" questions when you are faced with cancer. When you know what to expect, you will feel more in control of your life.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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