What to Expect

What to Expect

Where you are seen and what to expect during your first visit depend on your health care needs. You will be seen either at University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC, in the University District) or at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance  (SCCA, in the South Lake Union neighborhood). The doctors at both sites work as a close-knit team along with other SCCA professionals.

Is Surgery Your First Step?

If your colorectal cancer was diagnosed before you came to SCCA and doctors have already determined that you need surgery before any other treatment, then your first visit as an SCCA patient will be with a surgeon at UWMC. You will receive further care and treatment at the SCCA clinic.

Here’s what happens at a surgery appointment.

  • Your surgeon, a doctor specially trained in gastrointestinal or colorectal surgery, will review your medical records, including any tests or biopsies you have had.
  • You and your surgeon will meet, and you will have a complete physical examination.
  • Your surgeon will explain why it is advisable for you to have surgery before any other treatment, what your surgery options are, and how surgery fits into your overall cancer care.
  • You will leave the appointment knowing what your next steps should be.

Do You Need an Evaluation by an SCCA Oncologist?

If your colorectal cancer has been diagnosed and you need to be evaluated by an oncologist to discuss your treatment options, you will be seen at the SCCA clinic. Our team of colorectal cancer specialists will review your information, do any additional tests needed, and discuss your diagnosis and your treatment options with you.

Here’s what happens at a Colorectal Cancer Clinic appointment.

  • Your medical oncologist will review your medical records, including any tests or biopsies you have had.
  • Your pathologist and possibly other team members will review your pathology slides (tissue samples from any biopsies) to help the other doctors thoroughly understand your cancer.
  • Your medical oncologist will meet with you and conduct a complete physical examination.
  • One or more of the doctors on your team will meet with you (and any friends or family members you would like to have with you) to discuss the team’s findings and any further tests you may need. If appropriate, they will begin to discuss a treatment plan with you. This is a good time to ask any questions that you may have.
  • You will leave the appointment knowing what your next steps should be.

Expert, Compassionate Care and Support

Whether you are seen first at UWMC or at SCCA, here’s what you can expect.

  • An expert team of colorectal cancer specialists, including doctors who focus almost exclusively on treating patients with colon or rectal cancer. They talk with each other—and with you—so together you can choose the best possible treatment.
  • Compassionate care by a close-knit team that includes a nurse case manager, nurse practitioner, social worker, and registered dietitian. Each has an important role in your care.
  • Access to clinical studies, some based on research by the same doctors who will be treating you.
  • Information about ongoing support and self-care for you and your family while you are going through cancer treatment, including education, support groups, resources, and help to look and feel your best.
  • Follow-up care after you complete treatment, provided by the same team of specialists caring for you now. 
  • Patient education, including information about colorectal cancer, screenings, assessing your risk, and preventing recurrence.