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Rectal Cancer


C. Suzanne Cutter, MD

Surgical Oncology located in Los Angeles, CA

While rectal cancer is often grouped under colorectal cancer, the distinction is important because the treatment for cancer in your rectum requires a different standard of care. At CUREtology, Dr. Cutter is a surgical oncologist who has the expertise necessary to address this problematic area, helping patients in the West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Glendale, Pasadena, and surrounding Los Angeles, CA area overcome this disease through an approach that’s designed to provide long-term results. For more information, call today to book an appointment.

Rectal Cancer Q & A

What is rectal cancer?

Your rectum is the last part of your large intestine, which leads to your anus. This small area measures only a few inches, but it’s still prone to the same types of cancers that can affect your colon, in most cases in the form of adenocarcinomas, which are malignant tumors that develop in your glands.

Rectal cancer starts with polyps that develop on the inside lining of your rectum, which may become cancerous, and then spread through your lymph nodes to other parts of your body.

Most rectal cancer diagnoses are in people aged 50 and older. Other risk factors include:

  • Family history
  • History of inflammatory bowel disease
  • Previous polyps
  • Dietary factors (too much meat)
  • Obesity

While these factors put you more at risk, the cancer can develop in anyone, which is why screening is important for anyone over the age of 50.

How is rectal cancer diagnosed?

One of the most important tools when it comes to rectal cancer is a colonoscopy, a procedure in which Dr. Cutter takes a closer look at the walls of your lower intestine, including your rectum. If she discovers a polyp (or several), she may remove them during your colonoscopy for further testing.

If your test results show the presence of cancer cells, Dr. Cutter conducts further testing to stage your disease. To do this, she turns to advanced blood tests and imaging to determine whether your cancer is localized or has spread to other parts of your body.

How is rectal cancer treated?

When it comes to rectal cancer, one of the most important first steps is to remove the cancer. Dr. Cutter uses several surgical techniques to do this, and they depend upon the size and location of the tumor. In its earlier stages, Dr. Cutter may go in and simply remove the tumor if there’s enough healthy tissue around it to keep your rectum and anus intact.

Your rectum is a very small area, so Dr. Cutter may need to remove the tumor along with your sphincter to have a big enough margin of healthy tissue, in which case you’ll need to have a colostomy.

When it comes to rectal cancer, Dr. Cutter attempts to balance the two goals as best she can: eradicating the cancer and preserving your anus.

In many cases, you will also need follow-up chemotherapy and radiation, which Dr. Cutter monitors to ensure that your long-term prognosis is good and the cancer doesn’t return.

For expert care of your rectal cancer, call CUREtology or request a consultation using the online booking tool.