Rectal cancer

The colon and rectum are the two main parts of the large intestine. Although the colon is only one part of the large intestine, because most of the large intestine consists of colon, the two terms are often used interchangeably. The large intestine is also sometimes called the large bowel.

Digestive waste enters the colon from the small intestine as a semi-solid. As waste moves toward the anus, the colon removes moisture and forms stool. The rectum is about six inches long and connects the colon to the anus. Stool leaves the body through the anus. Muscles and nerves in the rectum and anus control bowel movements.

Colorectal cancer describes any cancers of the bowel, including those of the large intestines, colon, rectum and appendix. Rectal cancer begins in the rectum, which is the last several inches of the colon.

Treatment options

If you have rectal cancer, we'll talk everything over with you, and include your family if you like. Because we always pursue the newest available technology and treatments, we leave nothing to chance. If your cancer has not spread to the colon, for example, surgical options are likely to be your first line of defense. For a little anatomy to help you understand, the rectum is about four to five inches inside your body. Because of the compact area this organ occupies, precision is key.

We offer not only that exacting skill, but we care deeply about making you better as comfortably as possible. Think of us as your team, ready to conquer together. Learn more about treatments for rectal cancer here and let's get started.

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This well-known cancer treatment uses medicines taken intravenously or by mouth to kill cancer cells throughout the body. Chemotherapy may be given before surgery to shrink tumors, or after to fight cancer cells that have potentially spread.

Endocavity radiation therapy
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High-intensity radiation is delivered through a small device into a specific cancerous area. This allows some patients to avoid major surgery. It may be appropriate for some early rectal or esophageal cancers.

Excision surgery
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If cancer has not spread from the rectal wall, only this portion of the rectum will be removed.

Internal radiation therapy
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For this treatment, a radioactive source is put next to or into the tumor. The advantage of this approach is that the radiation reaches the tumor without passing through the skin and other tissues, which means it is less likely to cause side effects.

Interstitial radiation therapy
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This delivers radioactive pellets directly into the tumor through a tube.

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If a rectal polyp is cancerous, a colonoscopy can actually treat cancer. Just as with a colonoscopy, general anesthesia isn't required. This is a simple treatment for early stage rectal cancer.

Robotic-assisted surgery
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We have staff surgeons who specialize in using the daVinci(R) robotic system to treat various UGI cancers. Allowing greater dexterity and precision, robotic-assisted surgery can reduce complications and speed recovery.

Targeted therapy
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Targeted drugs have advanced the treatment of rectal (and colon) cancers. "Targeted" therapy destroys cancer cells, leaving normal cells alone. It stops cancer cells from dividing or destroys them directly.

Transanal endoscopic microsurgery
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Newer techniques like this are promising for treatment of some colon and rectal cancers. Flexible surgical instruments allow removal of cancerous lesions rectally. Because it's less invasive, you may enjoy faster recovery and fewer complications.

A Powerful Second Opinion

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