Rectal Cancer – What You Need to Know
Whether you’ve already been diagnosed with rectal cancer or you’re concerned about your chances of contracting the disease, you need to know the basics about the disease. Learn about the symptoms and treatment options. You’ll also find out why you need to have regular screenings and what you can do to lower your risks.
Symptoms of rectal cancer vary depending on the stage of the disease. In the initial stages, the symptoms are usually mild and unalarming. However, as the disease progresses, symptoms begin to increase in number and severity. In addition, rectal cancer can cause bleeding, shortness of breath, and fatigue.
Blood in the stool is one of the most common symptoms of rectal cancer. It can be bright red or dark. If blood is present in the stool, it is important to see a physician right away. This is because it can be an indication of a serious problem.
Another sign is a change in bowel habits. This can be a temporary issue or it may last for several days. It may occur because of an obstruction or a lack of nutrients. If this symptom is accompanied by abdominal pain, severe constipation, or other problems, it is important to see a doctor immediately.
Weight loss can also be a symptom of rectal cancer. This can be caused by blood in the stool, anemia, or a blockage. A blood test can also be used to find the cause of these problems.
If there are any abnormalities seen during the endoscopy, the healthcare provider will do a biopsy. This sample will be sent to the lab for analysis.
It is important to have regular screenings for colorectal cancer. It is especially important to get screened before the age of 45. This will ensure that the disease is caught early.
Other risk factors include being overweight or obese, smoking, and having a history of polyps. People with a family history of cancer, especially rectal cancer, are more likely to develop the disease.
The best way to diagnose and treat colorectal cancer is through regular screenings. It is a good idea to speak with your doctor and ask about genetic testing. There are also support groups available. You can visit the American Cancer Society for more information on local support groups. These can help you to cope with the emotional aspects of a cancer diagnosis. You can also contact a social worker or clergy member to learn more.
During a preventive checkup, your healthcare provider may find a lump or abnormality that may be rectal cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that there are about 43,000 new cases of rectal cancer in the United States each year.
Symptoms of rectal cancer do not usually appear until later stages. This is due to the fact that cancerous cells can spread through the bloodstream and tissue. Therefore, early diagnosis is an important factor in treatment. It is also important to know that most cases are successfully treated.
There are two main clinical approaches to the treatment of rectal cancer. The first involves a thorough physical examination. A doctor will look for signs of ascites, a buildup of fluid in the abdomen, or an unusual bowel symptom.
The second involves an imaging test. Endorectal ultrasound is an alternative method of evaluating the depth and size of a rectal tumor. The procedure includes inserting a small probe into the rectum and using sound waves to produce an image of the tumor. Depending on the extent of cancer, your doctor may recommend a colonoscopy to remove the tumor.
Another type of treatment is radiation therapy. It is used to kill cancerous cells and keep them from spreading. It can be combined with chemotherapy or given before surgery.
A third option is immunotherapy, which boosts the immune system to fight off cancer. This is usually administered before surgery and can be a major benefit. It is also possible to undergo targeted drug therapy, which targets specific tumors.
For many people, the diagnosis of rectal cancer is a very emotional event. There is often a great deal of information to process. This is why it is very important to discuss your concerns with your doctor. It can be helpful to join a support group. Fortunately, there are a lot of resources available to help you.
There are some inherited genetic conditions that increase your risk of developing colorectal cancer. These include familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), which is a hereditary condition that causes multiple precancerous polyps in the large intestine.
Depending on the stage of the disease, treatment of rectal cancer may involve surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation. Patients must be informed of the risks and benefits of each treatment. These discussions should be in a language that is easy to understand.
A rectal cancer patient can also opt for a clinical trial. These studies are conducted to find new and better treatments. A rectal cancer diagnosis can be very stressful, but knowing the facts can help you take charge of your health. In addition, you can participate in support groups.
Most rectal cancers are treated with a combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. However, the specific order of these treatments will vary from patient to patient.
Surgery is usually used to remove the tumor in the colon. The goal is to remove as little healthy tissue as possible. The surgeon will determine the extent of the disease before deciding on the best surgical approach. The surgeon will discuss surgical options with the patient.
Radiation can be used before or after surgery. It is given in small doses over a period of five to six weeks. It can help kill cancer cells and keep them from growing.
Chemotherapy is a systemic drug that enters the bloodstream and kills cancer cells throughout the body. It is given by injection or through a tube that is left in the vein.
Another type of cancer treatment involves using brachytherapy, which is delivered directly to the tumor. This treatment is less commonly used than external beam radiation.
In some cases, a rectal cancer patient may need to have surgery to create a temporary colostomy. This procedure can be done to avoid permanent bowel damage. This procedure is also used to treat polyps. A doctor will determine whether or not a colostomy is needed.
For early-stage rectal cancer, doctors at Fox Chase Cancer Center are studying the possibility of shrinking tumors through a combination of chemotherapy and radiation. The doctors also are exploring local surgeries, which involve removing a section of the rectum and sewing it back together.
Symptomatic recurrence of rectal cancer can be associated with serious morbidity and a poor prognosis. It is estimated that up to one-third of all cases of rectal cancer will eventually develop a local recurrence. However, the incidence of recurrence has decreased in recent years.
Surgical resection is the recommended therapeutic strategy for local recurrence. The success of this approach depends on accurate diagnosis and adjuvant therapy.
Radiologic imaging plays a significant role in the early detection of recurrence. CT/PET is particularly sensitive to detecting recurrent disease. Its negative predictive value is ninety percent. These tests also differentiate recurrence from benign findings.
The decision to perform curative surgery is a difficult one. For a minority of patients with local recurrence, surgical resection is the only option available. Its efficacy is increased when surgery is performed by a multidisciplinary team. These teams discuss tumor diagnosis, staging, and optimal treatment strategies. The aim is to maximize the patient’s chance of cure and prolonged survival.
Traditionally, oncological techniques such as total mesorectal excision and transanal minimally invasive surgery are used for the removal of the tumor. These methods have decreased local recurrence rates from 20-40% to 5-8 percent. In addition, the use of digital fusion imaging in the detection of local recurrence has increased accuracy to ninety-three percent.
However, there are concerns about the long-term effects of re-irradiation. There is a growing body of evidence to support the safety of re-irradiation. Some studies indicate that pelvic radiation can induce fibrosis, increasing the difficulty of surgery. Fortunately, new techniques such as intra-operative radiotherapy are being employed. These methods produce similar overall survival rates as conventional surgical resection.
Local recurrence of rectal cancer is a debilitating disease. It can be difficult to diagnose, and the patient’s quality of life can be affected. The disease is often accompanied by pain. In addition, the recurrence can result in spillage of the tumor cells into the presacral space. The consequences can be devastating.
Although the incidence of local recurrence of rectal cancer has decreased over the last three decades, many patients will still experience this disease. The future of this disease lies in the development of a standardized surgical technique and the optimization of treatment modalities.
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