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Trusted Rectal Cancer Prevention


Rectal cancer is cancer of the last six inches of your large intestine, or rectum. It’s a form of colorectal cancer, which is a common cancer that starts as noncancerous polyps. Screening tests and prevention strategies are widely available for colorectal cancers.

Dignity Health is committed to providing complete care for rectal cancer, including strategies for prevention, in the Bay Area. To make an appointment, you can Find a Doctor online and visit one of our four local hospitals and cancer centers.

Risk Factors for Rectal Cancer

Certain things can increase your risk of rectal cancer, including: 

  • African American ethnicity
  • Gene mutations or genetic conditions
  • Age 50 or older
  • Family or personal history of colorectal polyps or cancer
  • History of inflammatory bowel disease or cancer of the ovary, uterus, or breast
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Certain lifestyle habits, including smoking, obesity, not exercising, poor diet, and heavy alcohol use

Reducing Your Risk of Rectal Cancer at Dignity Health

Our highly trained oncologists are dedicated to providing state-of-the-art advanced screening, diagnostic, and imaging capabilities for colorectal cancer — all while providing care with humankindness.

Screening exams, such as colonoscopy, can find rectal polyps before they develop into cancer. This makes rectal cancer prevention possible. Polyps are growths of cells from the inner lining of the intestines. Because polyps can turn into cancer, they are removed during a colonoscopy.

In addition to colonoscopy, there are several other screening tests for colon cancer. Talk with your Dignity Health doctor to find the best one for you.

You can reduce your risk of rectal cancer by addressing your lifestyle habits. Steps you can take include:

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Get moderate exercise most days of the week.

Prevention is not possible in every case. However, rectal cancer is highly treatable when screening exams find it in early stages. If you’re diagnosed with rectal cancer, your doctor will let you know your treatment options, personalized to your needs. 

Dignity Health’s cancer care team provides screening tests to help you prevent rectal cancer in the Bay Area, including San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Redwood City.