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Rectal cancer treatment depends primarily on how advanced it is — the stage of rectal cancer. In general, it is more treatable in early stages. That’s why doctors recommend cancer screenings such as colonoscopy to find cancerous and precancerous polyps as soon as possible. The goal of treatment is to reduce symptoms, improve quality of life, and completely cure the cancer if possible.
Dignity Health North State offers a full range of rectal cancer treatment options, including surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy, all under one roof. Find a Doctor who will give you personalized rectal cancer treatment in Northern California in a supportive and comfortable setting.
Surgery is usually the main treatment for rectal cancer. The extent of surgery depends on the stage of the disease. In early stages, only the cancer and a small amount of normal tissue is removed. Advanced stages may require the removal of the entire rectum — the last six inches of the large intestine. In this case, your surgeon will connect the remaining colon directly to the anus so you can empty your bowels normally.
Radiation therapy is used before surgery to shrink the tumor and afterward to make sure any remaining cancer cells are destroyed.
If surgery is not an option, radiation therapy becomes the primary treatment option for rectal cancer. It can help relieve symptoms in advanced stages and treat cancer that has spread (metastasized) to other parts of the body.
Targeted therapy identifies and eliminates cancer using specific markers that only appear on cancer cells. Normal, healthy cells are not affected. Targeted therapies are often used for advanced rectal cancer or when chemotherapy is not working. Sometimes, targeted therapies can be more effective than chemotherapy alone.
Chemotherapy is used to stop cancer cells from growing or to kill them completely. It’s a common form of therapy for rectal cancer. Chemotherapy can be used as a main treatment or as a treatment before and after surgery. Sometimes doctors combine chemotherapy with radiation therapy or targeted therapies to prevent rectal cancer from returning after surgery.
Cancer treatment is a highly personal decision that depends on the stage of your cancer and your preferences. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of each of your options. At Dignity Health North State, we take your treatment goals seriously and work with you to choose the right care plan.