Rectal Cancer Treatment (Patient)
General Information About Rectal Cancer
Rectal cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the rectum.
The rectum is part of the body's digestive system. The digestive system removes and processes nutrients (vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and water) from foods and helps pass waste material out of the body. The digestive system is made up of the esophagus, stomach, and the small and large intestines. The first 6 feet of the large intestine are called the large bowel or colon. The last 6 inches are the rectum and the anal canal. The anal canal ends at the anus (the opening of the large intestine to the outside of the body).
See the following PDQ summaries for more information about rectal cancer:
Age and family history can affect the risk of developing rectal cancer.
Anything that increases your chance of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn't mean that you will not get cancer. People who think they may be at risk should discuss this with their doctor. The following are possible risk factors for rectal cancer:
Possible signs of rectal cancer include a change in bowel habits or blood in the stool.
These and other symptoms may be caused by rectal cancer. Other conditions may cause the same symptoms. A doctor should be consulted if any of the following problems occur:
Tests that examine the rectum and colon are used to detect (find) and diagnose rectal cancer.
Tests used to diagnose rectal cancer include the following:
Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.
The prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options depend on the following:
eMedicineHealth Public Information from the National Cancer Institute
This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http://cancer.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Some material in CancerNet™ is from copyrighted publications of the respective copyright claimants. Users of CancerNet™ are referred to the publication data appearing in the bibliographic citations, as well as to the copyright notices appearing in the original publication, all of which are hereby incorporated by reference.
Find out what women really need.
Pill Identifier on RxList
- quick, easy,
Find a Local Pharmacy
- including 24 hour, pharmacies