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Rectal Cancer

Rectal Cancer is a disease that is more common among people over 50 years of age when compared to the younger population. Some people may be at a higher risk for rectal cancer before the age of 40 due to genetics (family history) or other risk factors.

The condition is the consequence of uncontrolled cell growth that leads to the formation of a tumor inside the rectum. The result may be rectal cancer. Rectal cancer surfaces from the epithelial region of the rectum. The positive news is that rectal cancer is highly curable when treated in the early stages. If the cancer is not treated in time, the cancer may spread across the body and lodge tumors in all places via the blood stream.

What are the Symptoms of Rectal Cancer?
The symptoms of rectal cancer are similar to those of other digestive tract disorders, including:

  • Change in the bowel movements; either constipation or diarrhea.
  •  Urgency to have a bowel movement.
  • Sensation of a full bowel, even after passage of stool.
  • Anal bleeding
  • Severe pain in the abdomen.
  • Constant tiredness
  • Vomiting
  • Blood in the stool.
  • Weight loss for no reason.

Your Physician Consultation

Rectal cancer may be predicted or detected through health screenings that test for the presence of polyps, cancer or other abnormalities. The following tests may be performed.

FOBT (Fecal occult blood test) may be performed to detect blood inside the stool.

FIT (Fecal immunochemical test) is more advanced than the FOBT test because it specifically identifies antigens in blood that may be in the stool, only detects blood originating in the colon or rectum, and results may be more accurate because FOBT test results may be inappropriately influenced by select foods and medication. The test is used primarily in Europe, Australia, Japan, Israel, and is gaining popularity in the U.S.  

Sigmoidoscopy may be performed to examine the lower part of the colon and rectum.

Colonoscopy may be performed to look at the vast majority of the colon, searching for polyps. If polys are detected, they may be removed or biopsied for microscopic evaluation.  

DRE (digital rectal exam) may be performed by inserted a gloved finger inside the rectum to feel for abnormal structures.

Rectal Cancer Treatment

Cancer is usually treated in accordance with it stage, aggressiveness, and if or how much it has spread. The following types of treatments may be employed to treat rectal cancer:

Surgery via an abdominal or anal incision to remove the tumor in the rectum and tissues in the lymph nodes.

Radiation Therapy in high doses to kill cancerous cells.

Chemotherapy to burn the cancerous cells via medication, either orally or intravenously.

Colostomy may be performed when the rectum cannot be sewn up. In this case, a bag is attached to the stoma in which waste products are collected.

Conditions That May Be Associated with Rectal Cancer

The diseases that may be associated with rectal cancer include the following.

  • Colon polyps
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Colon cancer
  • Inflammatory bowel disorder
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Colon-related diseases
  • Diverticulitis

Rectal Cancer Outcome

If rectal cancer caught in the earlier stages, the cancer may easily be treated for a long-term life expectancy. If the cancer is identified in the later stages, treatment may not be available. In this case, palliative treatment to relieve the painful symptoms and improve the quality of life may be the only option.

Next Visit, Q and A for Your Doctor

It is important to recognize that medications and medical procedures are associated with benefits and risks that should be discussed with your physician. It is important to recognize that all information contained on this website cannot be considered to be specific medical diagnosis, medical treatment, or medical advice. As always, you should consult with a physician regarding any medical condition.