Surgery without ostomy, and the use of survivorship plans, can protect quality of life.
GASTROINTESTINAL CANCERS CAN BE particularly difficult to weather due to the invasive nature of some treatments. Specifically, surgery can remove essential organs such as the colon or rectum, permanently affecting quality of life for survivors.
Surgeons and researchers are aware of the challenges that come with adjusting to these kinds of changes, and that’s why they’re working hard to find ways to make such extensive surgeries less common. In this issue of CURE focused specifically on GI cancers, we examine efforts to preoperatively downstage GI disease using chemoradiation, so that patients will be eligible for less invasive surgeries that don’t result in ostomies. After successful chemoradiation, some patients might even do well with a “watch and wait” approach, in which surgery is, at least temporarily, put on hold.
These measures can be immensely helpful in preserving quality of life for patients who are eligible, and our article advises readers about what to consider in researching these possibilities for themselves. Elsewhere in this special issue, we look at the fascinating phenomenon of right-sided versus left-sided colorectal cancers, explaining recent discoveries about their differences. While researchers have found that those whose cancers develop on the right side of the colon have a poorer prognosis, they are also studying genetic differences between the cancer types that could lead to new treatments.
Our cover story, meanwhile, considers the importance of survivorship care plans for those who have completed treatment for GI cancers. Many survivors aren’t aware that these guiding documents exist, yet the plans can make a huge difference when it comes to long-term physical and emotional health.
In addition to an article detailing the latest strategies for liver cancer, we offer a section on pancreatic cancer that delves into issues from prevention to causes to treatments — both approved and experimental. We hope this compilation is both informative and inspiring, arming you with the knowledge and hope you need to proactively manage your cancer journey. As always, thank you for reading.
MIKE HENNESSY, SR.
Chairman and CEO