Man flexing next to the Cancer sign

Colorectal Cancer Survival and Quality of Life

Highlights  

  • Colorectal cancer survival rates are high and there are many survivors.
  • Following recovery, colon cancer survivors deal with physical, mental, and emotional challenges.
  • Younger survivors tend to have a more difficult time dealing with post-recovery stress and isolation.
  • Colorectal screening and early detection can help prevent and manage the disease and its consequences. 

Colorectal cancer survival rates are promising, and thanks to early detection, they continue to improve. Statistics say that if doctors detect colon cancer early, the five-year survival rate is 91.4 percent. 

In this blog post, we’ll discuss what you can expect as a colorectal cancer survivor and the factors that might affect your post-treatment quality of life. 

Colorectal Cancer Survival and Early Detection

The link between early detection and colorectal cancer survival is straightforward. Early detection means early-stage cancer, which responds better to treatment and higher five-year survival rates.

Regular colorectal screening does more than help you detect early colorectal cancer. It has been helping doctors lower colon cancer rates significantly over the years. It may have contributed to a 30 percent drop in colorectal cancer cases in people over 50. 

The advantage of regular colorectal cancer testing is that it can detect polyps in the colon that haven’t yet turned cancerous. By removing these polyps, doctors can prevent the disease altogether. 

Even if you develop colorectal cancer, early treatment increases your survival odds and your post-recovery quality of life.

Post-Colon Cancer Quality of Life

Your overall health dictates your quality of life. If you’re in constant pain, you can’t enjoy your daily activities. If you feel well, on the other hand, you can work out, be active, and enjoy life in general. 

As we age, our overall health begins to decline. We are also more likely to develop colon cancer past 50. Unfortunately, recent trends show colon cancer rates going up in those younger than 50.

Younger people, including colon cancer sufferers, tend to be in better physical shape. Therefore, we should look at their post-recovery quality of life separately from those over 50. 

Post-Colorectal Cancer Quality of Life Over 50

For those over 50, the factors impacting the quality of life of colorectal cancer survivors often include more complex physical and mental health factors than for younger men. 

Physical Well-being

Research has found that the physical quality of life of colon cancer survivors over 50 is slightly lower than that of the general population. Doctors have noted that the difference is not significant, however. On average, survivors function as well as those who never dealt with colon cancer. 

Those reporting lower physical quality of life are: 

  • Older. The older you are, the less likely you are to feel physically well as a colon cancer survivor.
  • Overweight. Carrying too much weight is generally unhealthy and makes life less enjoyable as a colorectal cancer survivor.
  • Less educated. Better education equals more opportunities and fewer financial worries. People with less education struggle more in general.
  • Smokers. Smoking negatively affects your physical well-being in many ways. It is hardly surprising that it worsens the quality of your post-colon cancer life.
  • Living with chronic conditions. Diabetes sufferers, for example, have digestive and other problems that interfere with their physical well-being. 
Man sitting with his eyes closed
Physical well-being is a significant component of your overall quality of life

Mental Well-being

In addition to physical well-being, mental health has a significant impact on overall quality of life.

Surprisingly, colorectal cancer survivors over 50 have reported slightly better emotional well-being than the general population. Doctors think that a phenomenon called benefit finding may be at work here. People who deal with extreme trauma successfully become more appreciative of life and its pleasures. 

Your post-colon cancer mental or emotional well-being is likely to be higher if you are: 

  • Well educated
  • Married, with a stable family life
  • An optimistic person 

Smokers have reported low mental well-being scores.

Colon cancer sufferers aren’t likely to die early due to low emotional quality of life. Those with a low physical quality of life, however, have less-favorable survival rates. 

Post-Colon Cancer Quality of Life of Young Survivors

For younger people, colorectal cancer survival is more traumatic than for those over 50. Younger colon cancer survivors are likely to suffer worse quality of life for emotional and social reasons. 

Those who have recovered from the disease a long time ago tend to grow more isolated socially and emotionally than recently recovered patients. 

Social isolation and emotional strife are unhealthy because isolated, emotionally vulnerable people fall ill easier. They are also more likely to die sooner than those who are emotionally fulfilled. 

Psychological counseling can help younger colorectal cancer survivors overcome these emotional and social challenges. 

General Factors Impacting Post-Recovery Quality of Life

Colorectal cancer survival is a physically, emotionally, and mentally taxing feat. 

Some people recover from the disease and become cancer-free. Those who recover tend to worry about their cancer recurring. 

Some don’t recover completely. Being on chemo or radiation therapy to control the disease is a stressful ordeal. 

If you are a colorectal cancer survivor, talk to your doctor about a survivorship care plan. Survivorship care plans can give your follow-up care structure and direction. They can help you manage the short- and long-term side effects of your treatment.

Colorectal Cancer Treatment Side Effects

Some of the side effects of colorectal cancer treatments are physically and mentally draining. They tend to subside once the treatment ends, but other side effects can persist.

These can include:

  • Tingling in fingers and toes from chemotherapy 
  • Persistent diarrhea 
  • Fecal urgency or incontinence
  • Interference with daily activities from colostomy or ileostomy 

Medical staff can offer you support to deal with all those problems, including managing a colostomy. 

Colostomy bag
Specialists can teach you how to manage your colostomy

Lower the Risk of Your Colorectal Cancer Returning

Doing your best to prevent colorectal cancer from returning can give you some peace of mind. 

  • Eat well and be physically active.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Avoid alcohol. 
  • Consider taking aspirin regularly. 
  • Get regular screening. 

eDrugstore Can Help You with Testing and Detection

Regular colorectal screening is important for everyone, but especially for cancer survivors. Early detection boosts colorectal cancer survival, and at-home colorectal cancer testing is a cost-effective option. 

We carry colorectal cancer screening kits you can easily use in the privacy of your home. While home screening alone is not recommended for those who have already had colorectal cancer, it can give you peace of mind between follow-up visits with your provider. Early detection can help assure a healthy, vibrant life after cancer.

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