So you’ve just received your diagnosis of colon cancer, likely after a colonoscopy, usually by a gastroenterologist. Normally what happens next is you’ll be referred over to a surgeon, whether colorectal surgical oncologist or general surgeon, who will then schedule you for an appointment. You’ll usually come in for an evaluation. At that time, they’ll discuss with you the findings on that colonoscopy, or at least the time of how you were diagnosed. And at that point, they’ll likely discuss with you where the tumor is located and kind of the significance of that. The next steps usually involve what we call staging. At that time you’ll be sent for CT scans of both your chest and your abdomen as well as your pelvis, as well as lab work. And then if you have a rectal cancer, we will also include a MRI of the pelvis or an endoscopic ultrasound.
Mostly now we’re using MRIs, but some facilities may do ultrasounds. This will give us an idea of the staging. It won’t give us an exact answer as to what stage you are. We won’t know that until after a surgical procedure. Following the staging, the surgeon will discuss with you your other medical conditions or family history, as well as potential previous surgical history, to really determine the next best steps. Once we have all the information together, we can discuss with you whether it’s better to see a medical oncologist first or to potentially proceed with surgery.