Rectal Cancer Prognosis
A rectal cancer prognosis is a medical opinion as to the course and outcome of the disease. Factors affecting such a prognosis include the stage of the cancer and the patient's age, general health, and response to treatment. While a patient's rectal cancer prognosis is based on these factors and data from hundreds of other cases, it is only a prediction; even the doctor cannot know for sure what will happen in an individual case.
Rectal Cancer Prognosis: An OverviewPeople facing rectal cancer are naturally concerned about what the future holds. Understanding rectal cancer and what to expect can help patients and their loved ones:
- Plan treatment
- Think about lifestyle changes
- Make decisions about their quality of life and finances.
Many patients want to know their rectal cancer prognosis. They may ask their doctor or search for statistics on their own.
A prognosis gives an idea of the likely course and outcome of a disease -- that is, the chance that a patient will recover or have a recurrence (return of the cancer).
Factors Affecting Rectal Cancer PrognosisMany factors affect a person's rectal cancer prognosis. One of the most important factors is the rectal cancer stage, which is the extent to which the cancer has metastasized, or spread (see Rectal Cancer Stages).
Other factors that may also affect the rectal cancer prognosis include the person's:
- General health
- Response to treatment.
When doctors consider a person's rectal cancer prognosis, they carefully assess all factors that could affect that person's disease and treatment, and then try to predict what might happen. The doctor bases the prognosis on information researchers have collected over many years about hundreds or even thousands of people with cancer. When possible, the doctor uses statistics based on groups of people whose situations are most similar to that of an individual patient.
The doctor may speak of a favorable rectal cancer prognosis if the cancer is likely to respond well to treatment. The rectal cancer prognosis may be unfavorable if the cancer is likely to be difficult to control. It is important to keep in mind, however, that a rectal cancer prognosis is only a prediction. The doctor cannot be absolutely certain about the outcome for a particular patient.