Rectal cancer is a form of colorectal cancer that affects the last six inches of the large intestine — the rectum. It begins as noncancerous polyps. These small growths slowly develop into cancer over 10 to 15 years. In the US, most adults have a five percent risk of developing rectal cancer at some point in their lives.
If you or a loved are diagnosed with rectal cancer in Northern California, the cancer care team at Dignity Health North State will help you face the journey with dignity and respect. Find a Doctor who treats rectal cancer at one of our nearby locations:
What Causes Rectal Cancer?
Doctors don’t know what causes rectal cancer. However, they have identified a number of colorectal cancer risk factors that can increase your likelihood of developing it:
- Personal history of inflammatory bowel disease or cancer of the breast, ovary, or uterus
- Family or personal history of colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer
- Certain genetic conditions and gene mutations
- Being over age 50
- African American race
- Type 2 diabetes
- Lifestyle factors, including heavy alcohol use, being overweight, smoking, not exercising, and poor diet
Signs of Rectal Cancer
Signs and symptoms of rectal cancer include:
- Very dark or bloody stool
- Changes in bowel habits, including constipation, diarrhea, narrowing of the stool, and a feeling of incomplete emptying
- Rectal bleeding
- Abdominal discomfort
- Changes in appetite and weight loss
Rectal Cancer Treatment at Dignity Health North State
Your options for rectal cancer treatment depend on the stage of rectal cancer. However, surgery is the most common treatment for all stages of rectal cancer. Other options include targeted therapy, radiation, and chemotherapy.
Cancer screenings, such as colonoscopy, can locate precancerous polyps and identify rectal cancer in its earliest stages. If you are at increased risk for rectal cancer, talk to the oncology experts at Dignity Health North State about your best options for early detection. Early treatment for rectal cancer is more likely to be effective.