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Cancer can develop in the rectum when the cells mutate, growing uncontrollably. The disease often first appears in anal polyps. Rectal cancer affects more men than women and is often treated very successfully with chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.

What are the symptoms?

Rectal cancer, when in the early stages, has no discernable symptoms. As the disease progresses, the following symptoms often appear:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Bloody stool
  • Diarrhea or constipation, or both
  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal bloating

Types of rectal cancer

Rectal cancers vary in type, often starting as a polyp. The disease may be diagnosed after polyps are removed in a colonoscopy and then evaluated in our laboratory.

  • Adenocarcinoma: This form of rectal cancer starts as a polyp and is the most common form.
  • Gastrointestinal stromal tumor: This form of rectal cancer develops in the cells on the wall of the digestive tract. 
  • Carcinoid tumor: A slow-growing form of cancer that develops in the nerve cells, often without presenting symptoms when in the early stages
  • Lymphoma: A less common form of rectal cancer, lymphoma involves the unchecked growth of a specific type of cell called a lymphocyte. 
  • Leiomyosarcomas: A rare form of rectal cancer affecting the layers of smooth muscles in the digestive tract and rectum.
  • Melanoma: A skin cancer, melanoma can appear on any area of the body, including the rectum.

Treatment for rectal cancer

The treatment for rectal cancer reflects the stage of the disease.

  • Stage 0: The cancer is limited to the inner lining of the rectum, and surgical removal of a polyp may be the only treatment needed, followed by close monitoring.
  • Stage I: Cancer has advanced to the deeper layers of tissue in the rectum but has not spread to other areas of the body. Surgical removal of the cancerous tissue is performed to remove the diseased cells. In some cases, chemo and radiation treatments are performed.
  • Stage II: Cancer has grown through the rectum wall and is affecting the surrounding tissues. Chemo and radiation therapy are performed. The goal is to shrink the cancer and make it possible to remove the cancerous tissues with surgery. After surgical removal, additional chemo treatments continue, typically for up to six months.
  • Stage III: In stage III rectal cancer, cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. The treatment will involve chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. The combination of chemo and radiation is performed to shrink the tumors, making it more possible to remove the damaged tissue with surgery. Following surgical removal, chemo and radiation therapy may continue for up to six months.
  • Stage IV: In stage IV rectal cancer, cancer has metastasized, spreading to other organs and tissues. The treatment will reflect the number and size of the tumors and where they are in the body. Treatment may involve surgery to remove cancerous tumors on the rectum or other area of the body, followed by chemo, radiation, or both. Chemo and radiation may be performed first, with careful monitoring of the tumors, followed by surgical removal of the cancerous tissues. In some cases, a specialized laser could be used to destroy the tumor. Every treatment is must be 100 percent customized for the individual patient, and closely monitored, so that medications can be changed if needed.

Why choose Beverly Hills Cancer Center?

If you have been diagnosed with rectal cancer, it is typically a terrifying life experience. At Beverly Hills Cancer Center, we offer a state-of-the-art, multidisciplinary approach to cancer treatment, with all of the services needed under one roof. Our team of oncologists and specialists are leaders in their fields of practice and provide an uncommon level of compassionate care. We provide a range of advanced treatments and are often engaged in clinical trials to identify more effective treatments for various cancers. Our center is entirely different from what you will find at a hospital, providing comfort, privacy, and a healing, supportive atmosphere, with a wide array of amenities to make the journey to better health pleasant and less frightening.

Beverly Hills Cancer Center

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