I've Just Been Told I Have Anal Cancer
There are very few things scarier than being told you have cancer. You may feel like you’re in shock. You may not even want to believe what the doctor has told you. And there are probably so many questions you want to ask, but think you can’t because you don’t know where to start.
First of all, it’s OK to be overwhelmed. And it’s OK to feel afraid. But you shouldn’t let those feelings stop you from finding out as much as you can about your cancer and about the options you have. Because the more you know, the less helpless and afraid you will feel. And the more you know, the better you will be able to work with your health care team to make the best choices for your treatment. To help deal with the medical information and remember all your questions, it is helpful to bring a family member or close friend with you to doctor's appointments.
To decide the best course of treatment, your doctor needs to know as much as possible about the cancer. This will involve getting a variety of tests and working with more than 1 health care professional.
For example, your health care team may include a doctor who specializes in cancer, called a medical oncologist, and an oncology nurse. You may also see cancer specialists with different specialization, such as a surgeon and a radiation oncologist. The team will answer all your questions and guide you through each of the steps that you’ll take before, during, and after treatment. Your team will let you know what tests are being done and what the results mean. They’ll help you in making treatment decisions. Remember, you can always ask for a second opinion to ensure you feel comfortable with your plan. In fact, some insurance companies require a second opinion for such diagnoses. According to the American Cancer Society, it is very rare that the time it will take to get a second opinion will have a negative impact on your treatment. The peace of mind a second opinion provides may be well worth the effort.
People with anal cancer now have more treatment choices than ever before. There is more hope for survival. Doctors keep finding new ways to help people with anal cancer. There is more being learned about this type of cancer — its prevention, detection, and treatment — every day.