People experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms or delays in colorectal cancer care should address these questions with their care team.
In the uncertainty of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Colon Cancer Coalition recommends that anyone currently living with symptoms of colorectal cancer and patients experiencing treatment delays should not assume that care is unavailable. If you are experiencing blood in their stool, significant unexplained weight loss, or changes in bowel habits, among other symptoms, talk to your doctor as soon as possible and any colorectal cancer patient living with a treatment delay should advocate for yourself with your care team.
We support the action of health care facilities across the country to defer elective screening colonoscopies, not only to help deploy health care resources to those in greatest need, but also to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for patients and providers alike. As elective procedures begin to become more available, it is vitally important for individuals experiencing symptoms of colorectal cancer to proactively reach out to their provider for help and to determine what care or diagnostic evaluations are appropriate. There are now many telemedicine options available to help determine how urgent your issues may be and what treatment options are appropriate.
In addition to the stress of living through a global health pandemic, the colorectal cancer patient community, like others managing cancer, is experiencing additional anxiety with delays in care and added concerns about their risk of contracting COVID-19. We encourage all cancer patients to talk with their care team about their risk and how a delay in treatment may or may not impact their care and outcomes, and to determine what care can be done through telemedicine without frequent visits to care facilities.
Questions for your health care providers
For individuals experiencing symptoms:
For current cancer patients experiencing delays in care:
Colorectal cancer symptoms:
Multiple symptoms or persistent symptoms lasting more than two weeks need to be evaluated by a physician. Don’t wait to call and talk to a medical professional about your concerns.
Patients looking for connection and support may find that in COLONTOWN, an online community of more than 100 “secret” groups (or neighborhoods) on Facebook. This community is an online home for colorectal patients, survivors, and their carepartners alike. Every neighborhood is nurtured by a Neighborhood Host (or several), themselves living the experience.