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Few things are 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. 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. 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 your treatment options. 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.
Stomach cancer often takes many years to develop. Sometimes, though, stomach cancer can grow and spread very quickly. Doctors have a hard time predicting which stomach cancers will grow slowly and which will grow quickly. The good news is that doctors can detect stomach cancer earlier than ever before. That means there's more hope of beating the cancer.
Your health care team needs to know as much as they can about you and your cancer in order to recommend the best treatment for you. The biopsy that showed you have cancer gives your doctor other facts. For instance, it can help your doctor predict how fast the cancer may grow, which is called the grade. It's likely you'll need other tests to learn how far the cancer has progressed, which is called the stage.
You may need to work with more than one doctor or other health care professionals. Your health care team will include a doctor who specializes in cancer. Doctors who specialize in dealing with stomach cancer include surgical oncologists, medical oncologists, and radiation oncologists. You will also have an oncology nurse. This team will answer any questions you have. They'll also help you through each of the steps you'll take before, during, and after treatment. Your team will let you know about the tests you need and the results. They'll guide you in making treatment decisions.
Usually, treatment for stomach cancer begins a few weeks after a diagnosis. This gives you time to have more tests so that your doctor can get all the details he or she needs. You also have time to talk with your doctor about treatment choices, get a second opinion, decide about treatment, and prepare yourself and your loved ones.
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