Rectal Cancer Treatment
- What It Is
- Risk Factors
- Living With
- User Questions
- Alternative Treatment
- Care Guide
- Questions for Your Doctor
- When to Contact a Doctor
- Find a Doctor
- Resource Guide
How to Treat Rectal Cancer
Treatment will depend on the stage of the cancer, how far it has spread into the wall of the rectum, and your overall health. Options include:
Surgery is the main treatment. It requires removal of the cancerous tumor and nearby rectal tissue. 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 also look for additional cancer in the colon during the surgery.
In some cases, nearby healthy rectal or colon tissue will be removed. Healthy tissue is removed in case the cancer has begun to spread. The removal of a part of the colon is called a colectomy. 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. This is called a colostomy. It allows body waste to pass out of the body if the colon cannot do so.
This is the use of radiation 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 in combination with chemotherapy.
This therapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It may be given in many forms, including pill, injection, and via a catheter. The drugs enter the bloodstream and travel through the body killing mostly cancer cells. It can also kill some healthy cells. This therapy is systemic, meaning it affects your entire body.
Combined chemotherapy and radiation therapy has been the preferred treatment for this disease.
If you are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, follow your doctor's instructions.