Meeting a colon cancer specialist: What you need to know

Written by Dr. Shekar Narayanan on 10/10/2013

First of all, it's ok to be nervous when meeting a colorectal cancer surgeon. You have the right to be. I have been on that side of the table with family members and it can be overwhelming. The most important thing to remember is that we are on your side. 

You will be met by the surgeon in a consultation room for an initial discussion. We will review the medical reports, pathology, X-rays, CT scans or anything else that is relevant. There is often conversation about the role of a colorectal cancer surgeon as well as his experience, training and reason for going into the field. We must build a trust together. 

Next, you may be taken to an exam room to a have quick look at your stomach area or sometimes your backside (rectal area). This is done not to embarrass you, but to be sure that we understand the location of the cancer or polyp and that the type of surgery is appropriate for the location.

We finish back in the consultation room (family is also encouraged to participate!) to discuss the exam findings and gameplan for surgery. This is YOUR time. Ask questions, bring articles etc. No question is stupid! We will provide information about the surgery, its risks and benefits, time in the hospital and recovery time. Diagrams are often used to make it easier to understand. Don't be intimidated by terms like "laparoscopic" (camera surgery), robotic or minimally-invasive (smaller or no incisions). These are simply terms for specialty type surgeries designed to help the patient get back to work and to their families faster and with less pain! The key to the visit is trust and building that lifetime bond. 

It’s a fight…… we are here to fight with you.

Shekar Narayanan, MD, FACS, FASCRS
MD Anderson Cancer Network™ certified physician
Colorectal cancer surgeon specialist

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