Frequently asked questions
We would also like to use the information we offer to answer specific questions regularly asked by patients in the day-to-day operation of the Colorectal Centre of Pirmasens.
This part of our website is expanded on a regular basis.
So it makes sense to visit here from time to time. Here, we offer you background and useful information drawn from consultations by all of the partners of our colorectal centre.
Naturally, we will also be glad to answer your questions in person.
Answer: If colorectal cancer is discovered at an advanced stage of the disease, the tumour has usually grown to such an extent that it can no longer be removed endoscopically. In some cases, there are polyps that exhibit early cancer growth in upper cell layers. In such cases, under certain conditions endoscopic removal (polypectomy) is sufficient as a cancer therapy.
The cooperation partners of the Colorectal Centre of Pirmasens have considerable experience with this form of treatment and with providing patient consultations. We do not want to fail to mention, however, that most patients with a definitive diagnosis of bowel cancer will need to undergo a ‘real’ operation. Whether follow-up radiotherapy or chemotherapy treatment is required depends on the exact location and size of the tumour.
Answer: It has been confirmed that colorectal cancer can be hereditarily ‘passed along’ in a family. The good news is that ‘familial adenomatous polyposis’ (FAP) ranks among the very rare genetic diseases. The risk of passing FAP along to one’s own children is around 50 percent. If it is passed on, cancer begins developing already at an age of between 35 and 40 years. This is why it is important to inform the general practitioner at an early age if an incidence of bowel cancer is known among parents or grandparents.
Another hereditary form of colorectal cancer is non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC). With this form of the disease, cancer erupts with no previously visible polyps in the bowel! Roughly 5 to 7 percent of all cases of colorectal cancer are attributable to HNPCC.
Answer: The purpose of radiotherapy is to reduce the size of a tumour that has reached such a size that an operation to remove it would pose considerable risks and/or consequences to the patient. What is unique about this form of treatment is thus the fact that – usually applied in combination with chemotherapy– it precedes an actual operation.
In practice, radiation therapy is used particularly in the case of cancer of the rectum (rectal carcinoma), cancer of the lymph nodes, or in cases of outsized growth in individual parts of the bowels. Success is clear several weeks after radiotherapy, and the cancer can be surgically removed in the ‘normal’ fashion. This success is particularly important if the cancer affects the anus. Thanks to successful radiation therapy, the patient can retain full function of his or her sphincter after the operation.
Answer: In theory, yes. But ... .
A great support for the success of our work together comes from the fact that all forms of diagnosis and therapy that our partners at the Colorectal Centre of Pirmasens offer you are backed by scientific studies, have successfully been performed on large numbers of patients and are subject to review over and over again. If it is your wish to support this treatment through additional (!) administration of homoeopathic preparations, you should feel free to discuss the matter quite openly with our qualified specialists, because:
in most cases, the additional (!) administration of preparations in what is known as ‘alternative’ medicine is not ruled out; in no case, however, do these preparations serve as a substitute for treatment methods and medicines of recognised, conventional medicine.
Answer: The consequences of cancer can also affect a person’s life to such an extent that the individual must rely on benefits and forms of assistance that help make daily life easier. This so-called ‘degree of disability’ must be officially determined; application can then be made with the relevant pension office [Versorgungsamt].
The German Social Security Code identifies a ‘severe disability’ among people with a degree of disability of 50 percent or more. These patients may be entitled to early old-age pension or retirement and may also have claims to a number of days of special leave or added security of job tenure. Additional benefits could be granted under certain circumstances if there are further health restrictions. Patients can learn the details of these provisions from the relevant partners of the Colorectal Centre of Pirmasens.
Answer: In principle yes, as there is definitively no diet for which it has been scientifically established that it prevents cancer, reduces cancer risk or would even have curative effects. It is also very important for colorectal cancer patients to avoid any (!) form of malnutrition. Stay away from fasting and all manner of popular diets. The only might be that you need to avoid certain foods for health reasons, in which case we urgently advise you to discuss these exceptions with the physician treating you.
We advise patients of the Colorectal Centre of Pirmasens to eat a tasty, varied, and low-fat diet. Cook, steam and simmer to your heart's content! Frying, roasting and heavy searing – of meat, for instance – should be enjoyed in moderation as these types of preparation can place a strain on the bowels. Consume food and condiments that ‘sit heavily on the stomach’ – fats, salt, sugar, sweets – in small amounts and paying particular attention; this not only increases the enjoyment but is good for your health, too. Coffee and alcohol are also ‘allowed’ in small quantities – but you should forego all forms of nicotine.
Answer: It’s true. Patients in chemotherapy frequently complain of a feeling of nausea, vomiting or of having no appetite. To this day, there is quite literally no cure for the side effects of this form of therapy. There are some tips, however, that will help you mitigate or eliminate the side effects described above.
It’s to take lots of time to eat, and to create a pleasant atmosphere during meals: see to it that meal is more than a process in which you add food your body. This advice may sound trite upon first reading – but it is true that in many cases, we have forgotten how to enjoy our food, and how to be aware of what we are eating, and to appreciate this food (and those who have prepared it). Therefore: eat as slowly and deliberately as possible.
Part of this eating ‘ritual’ also involves consuming small portions, chewing longer and preparing yourself for meals: wear comfortable clothes, ventilate your home, or eat on a balcony or near a window. Learn what was natural for people in times past: to enjoy meals as phases of relaxation and rest in everyday life.
Answer: Basically, colorectal cancer is no reason to forego the usual walk, a bike ride or a visit to the swimming pool. Quite the opposite: for cancer patients, it’s important to make sure that the body gets adequate rest and exercise.
The emphasis here is on ‘adequate’ – because especially during chemotherapy, your body needs all the rest it can get. A person who exercises too much, or subjects his or her body to the burdens considered normal before therapy began, risks unnecessarily weakening the entire organism. Patients in chemotherapy must be aware that any excessive stress will further weaken the body! This even applies, for instance, to patients who were engaged in strength or endurance exercise before therapy began. For a patient in chemotherapy, even a walk of a few minutes can prove to be ‘long-distance’.