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Personalized Treatment for Rectal Cancer


Rectal cancer grows slowly in the lining of the rectum, which is the last six inches of your large intestine. Doctors at Dignity Health create treatment plans based on the stage of the rectal cancer, or how advanced it is. Regular colonoscopy screenings help doctors diagnose rectal cancer in its earliest stages. Treatment in the early stages of the disease is often highly effective.

The goals of rectal cancer treatment include: 

  • Eliminating the cancer or curing it
  • Easing symptoms
  • Improving quality of life

Treatments for rectal cancer include:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted therapy 

At Dignity Health, our hospitals in the Bay Area offer preventive care, early detection, advanced diagnostic and imaging technologies, and state-of-the-art treatment protocols. If you’re seeking treatment for rectal cancer in the Bay Area, Find a Doctor online.

Surgery for Rectal Cancer

In most cases, surgery is the primary treatment for rectal cancer. The type of surgery depends on the location of the cancer in the rectum and its stage. For early stage rectal cancer, surgery may only involve removing the cancer and a small amount of surrounding normal tissue. More advanced cancers may require the removal of the entire rectum. The surgeon connects the end of the healthy colon directly to the anus. After surgery, the bowel can empty normally.

Radiation Therapy for Rectal Cancer

Doctors can use radiation therapy to shrink the tumor before surgery or to kill any remaining cancer cells after surgery. It can also be used as a primary treatment option in patients who can’t have surgery. Radiation therapy is also useful to relieve symptoms in advanced stages and to treat cancers that have metastasized (spread to other parts of the body).

Chemotherapy for Rectal Cancer

Chemotherapy kills cancer cells or stops them from growing. Doctors may use it like radiation before and after surgery, as a main treatment, and for advanced cancers. They may also combine it with radiation to help prevent cancer from growing again after treatment.

Targeted Cancer Therapy for Rectal Cancer

Targeted cancer therapies use markers to identify cancer cells and kill them. In certain cases, targeted therapies work better than traditional chemotherapy alone. Targeted therapies are most often recommended if your cancer is no longer responding to chemotherapy drugs, or if your cancer is advanced.

Considering Your Treatment Options in the Bay Area

Our doctors design specialized rectal cancer treatment plans based on the stage of your cancer and your personal preference. It’s important to talk with your doctor about the goals, benefits, and side effects of each treatment option. Together, you can choose the plan that fits your needs.

Dignity Health offers a variety of treatment options for rectal cancer in the Bay Area, including San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Redwood City.