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Diagnosing Symptoms of Rectal Cancer in Southern California

Cancer of the rectum begins as polyps, or small growths, and develops slowly over the course of 10 to 15 years. Slow-growing colon polyps typically do not cause significant changes in the body, so symptoms of rectal polyps are rarely apparent in the early stages of the disease

At Dignity Health Southern California hospitals, our quality colorectal cancer screenings are the best way to find polyps before they become cancerous and cause symptoms. Use our online Find a Doctor tool to report your symptoms of rectal cancer in Long Beach, Northridge, Downtown LA, Glendale, and San Bernardino.

What are Signs & Symptoms of Rectal Cancer?

Rectal cancer shares many of the same symptoms as other intestinal cancers and conditions. Only an expert can pinpoint the cause of your symptoms. 

Common signs and symptoms include:

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Bloody or very dark stool
  • Diarrhea, constipation, narrowing of the stool
  • Feeling of incomplete emptying
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue

Our compassionate specialists at Dignity Health Southern California are ready to listen to your symptoms and perform any diagnostic exams. 

Diagnosing Rectal Cancer Symptoms at Dignity Health Southern California

Your doctor will consider all of your signs and symptoms before beginning diagnostic exams and tests. A comprehensive check for rectal cancer may include any of the following procedures.

Medical History

A medical history involves documenting your symptoms and other past or current conditions.

Physical Exam 

During a physical exam, your doctor will observe signs of rectal cancer, such as rectal bleeding. 


A colonoscopy is an exam that provides an in-depth look of the rectum.

Blood Tests

Blood tests, including a complete blood count (CBC) and tumor markers.

Imaging Exams 

To identify the cause of rectal symptoms, you may need a CT scan, MRI, ultrasound, or PET scan.

Each screening test comes with different benefits and risks. During your visit, you will be able to share your concerns and work with your doctor to learn which test is best for you. At Dignity Health Southern California, we strive to provide a compassionate and comfortable experience while you undergo testing and exams. 

Your Dignity Health doctor can assess symptoms of rectal cancer in Southern California, provide a diagnosis, and create a personalized treatment plan.