Rectal cancer treatment is most effective when the cancer is in early stages. The disease starts as noncancerous polyps in the rectum that develop slowly into cancer over 10 to 15 years. Doctors use colonoscopy to identify and remove precancerous and cancerous polyps, often before rectal cancer symptoms are noticeable.
Dignity Health Central California offers nurse navigators who can help guide you through your journey from diagnosis to treatment by:
- Coordinating communication between you and your health care team
- Offering support with practical, emotional, scheduling, or logistical issues
- Explaining treatments and procedures
- Helping you and your loved ones connect with support services and counseling
If you are due for a screening or have noticed any symptoms of rectal cancer symptoms in Central California, Find a Doctor who will treat you with a philosophy of care, dignity, and respect.
Recognizing Signs of Rectal Cancer at Dignity Health Central California
Symptoms of rectal cancer usually aren’t obvious in early stages. Doctors rely on colonoscopy and other screening tests to find early signs such as polyps.
As rectal cancer advances, bleeding into the large intestine becomes more likely. This loss of blood can lead to a low blood cell count and anemia. If your doctor sees this on a routine blood test, she or he may recommend rectal cancer screening.
Symptoms of rectal cancer may include:
- Bloody or very dark stool
- Rectal bleeding, which you may notice on toilet paper or in the toilet bowl
- Abdominal discomfort
- Loss of appetite
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Narrowing of the stool
- Weight loss
- Feeling of incomplete emptying
Several other conditions, including hemorrhoids, can cause similar symptoms. Your Dignity Health Central California doctor can confirm or rule out the presence of cancer.
Diagnosing Rectal Cancer
Screening tests, such as colonoscopy, are the most effective way to find rectal cancer in its early stages. It’s during this time that rectal cancer treatment is most likely to be successful.
Doctors diagnose rectal cancer using:
- Colonoscopy to collect a tissue or biopsy sample
- Imaging exams, including PET scan, ultrasound, MRI, and CT scan
- Blood tests, including complete blood count (CBC) and tumor markers
- Physical exam and medical history
When it comes time to make treatment decisions, remember that you and your doctor will work together to determine what’s right for you. Be sure to ask any questions you have to make sure you understand your diagnosis and what happens next. At Dignity Health Central California, we offer nutrition assistance, cancer support groups, and many other services to make sure you get the care and attention you need.
Dignity Health Central California doctors identify and diagnose rectal cancer symptoms in Bakersfield, Merced, San Andreas, and Stockton, CA.