Rectal cancer is cancer in the rectum, the last part of the large intestine. It allows waste to pass to the anus and out of the body.
Cancer occurs when cells in the body divide without control or order. If cells keep dividing, a mass of tissue (a growth or tumor) forms. The term cancer refers to malignant tumors. They can invade nearby tissue and spread to other parts of the body.
The cause is unknown.
Research shows that certain risk factors are associated with the disease, including:
Age: 50 or older
Hereditary conditions (eg, familial polyposis or lynch syndrome)
History of colon or rectal cancer or polyps
Family history of colorectal cancer, especially a parent, sibling, or child
Transrectal ultrasound—an ultrasound probe inserted into the rectum sends out sound waves to image the tumor
Treatment will depend on the stage of the cancer, the spread into the wall of the rectum, and your overall health. Options include:
Surgery is the main treatment. The tumor and nearby rectal tissue are removed. It may also involve nearby lymph nodes. The surgery may be done by:
Laparoscopy—This is for the removal of early stage cancer.
Open surgery—This is used to remove larger, later stage tumors, nearby healthy tissue, and potentially nearby lymph nodes. The doctor will look for additional cancer in the colon.
Sometimes, nearby healthy rectal or colon tissue will be removed. This is called colectomy. Healthy tissue is removed in case the cancer has spread. Often, the remaining healthy portions of the colon and rectum are reconnected. Sometimes, the end of the healthy colon is temporarily or permanently attached to an opening in the abdomen called a colostomy. It allows body waste to pass out of the body if the colon cannot do so.
Radiation is used
to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. It is directed at the site of the tumor from a source outside the body.
This therapy is aimed at the immediate area of the cancer.
It is used alone or with chemotherapy.
This therapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It may be given in many forms, including pill, injection, and via a catheter. Drugs enter the bloodstream and travel through the body killing cancer cells. They can also kill healthy cells. This therapy is systemic, meaning it affects your entire body.
Combined chemotherapy and radiation therapy has been the preferred treatment.
If you are diagnosed, follow your doctor's instructions.
The cause of most rectal cancer is not known. Many colon and rectal cancers can be prevented by finding and removing polyps that could become cancer. Beginning at age 50, both men and women at average risk for colon and rectal cancer should follow one of these five screening options:
Yearly fecal occult blood test or fecal immunochemical test
Colonoscopy every 10 years
Flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years
Double contrast barium enema (x-rays of the colon and rectum) every five years
CT colonography every five years
Discuss these cancer screening tools with your doctor to see which option is best for you.
People with any of the following risk factors should begin colon and rectal cancer screening earlier (at age 40) and/or undergo screening more often:
Strong family history of colorectal cancer or polyps
Family history of hereditary colorectal cancer syndromes
History of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a