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Symptoms and Signs of Rectal Cancer Treatment

Doctor's Notes on Rectal Cancer Treatment

Rectal cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form from the tissues of the rectum (rectum and anus comprise the last 6-8 inches of the large intestine). Signs and symptoms that may indicate diagnosis and/or treatment is needed are blood in the stool, changing bowel habits (diarrhea, constipation), feel like you cannot empty your bowels, narrow stools, abdominal discomfort, gas/bloating, appetite change, unintentional weight loss and feeling very tired.

Causes of rectal cancer are not clear but risk factors include family history, other GI cancers or GI problems like IBD, genetics (familial adenomatous polyposis), smoking, 3 or more alcoholic drinks per day, obese, older age and/or being black. Five types of standard treatments are used; surgery (most common), radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy and active surveillance. Some individuals will be treated by more than one therapy type; treatments are individualized according to the medical condition of the patient and how aggressive is the cancer.

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/21/2019


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.