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Personalized Treatment for Rectal Cancer in Southern California

At Dignity Health Southern California hospitals, we have a variety of treatment options to cure rectal cancer and prevent it from returning. Your doctor will keep in mind your goals for treatment and well-being to create a plan that’s best for you. There’s a lot to consider before deciding on a treatment, and our cancer specialists will help you choose the most effective option.

Use our online Find a Doctor tool to schedule treatment for rectal cancer in Southern California.

Rectal Cancer Treatment Options at Dignity Health Southern California

Surgery and drug therapies can work alone or together to heal cancer and alleviate symptoms of the disease. Generally, the stage of rectal cancer impacts which treatment is best. For example, surgery might be effective for early-stage rectal cancer, but not for cancer that has spread to other organs. There are also options for rectal cancer treatment without surgery.


Surgery for rectal cancer may involve removing the tumor or the entire rectum, depending on how advanced the cancer is. This procedure is called a proctectomy. If a complete proctectomy is needed, a surgeon will connect the healthy end of the colon directly to the anus to ensure normal bowel emptying.


Chemotherapy drugs can kill cancer cells and prevent them from growing. Sometimes chemotherapy is used before surgery to shrink a tumor, or afterward to kill remaining cancer cells. Your doctor may prescribe chemotherapy with radiation treatment to keep cancer from returning.

Targeted Cancer Therapy

The goal of targeted cancer therapy is to identify and eliminate the tumor by directly applying drugs to specific markers, or cancer-indicating substances. For some types of cancer, targeted cancer therapy is more effective than traditional chemotherapy. People with advanced rectal cancer or cancer that doesn’t respond to chemotherapy might choose targeted cancer therapy.

Radiation Therapy

If you can’t have surgery, radiation treatment for rectal cancer might be a main treatment option. It’s also ideal for shrinking or killing cancer before or after surgery, relieving symptoms, and treating cancer that spread outside of the rectum.

What to Expect 

Before deciding on a treatment, your doctor will tell you about the risks, benefits, and side effects. You will have the chance to share your concerns and learn about each option. There may be specific instructions for preparation, recovery, and follow-up, but your doctor will keep you informed.

Cancer specialists at Dignity Health can help you decide on a treatment for rectal cancer in Southern California.