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Rectal Cancer Specialist

Rectal Cancer Specialist

About Rectal Cancer services offered in Merrifield and Fair Oaks, Fairfax, Alexandria, Gainesville, Woodbridge and Lansdowne, VA

As treatment techniques advance, survival rates for rectal cancer continue to improve. Early diagnosis, however, is key to a successful outcome. As part of your cancer care team, the specialists at Fairfax Colon & Rectal Surgery, PC offer highly accurate diagnostic studies and advanced surgical treatments for rectal cancer. Schedule your evaluation today. Call their office in Fairfax, Fair Oaks, Alexandria, Gainesville, Woodbridge, or Lansdowne, Virginia. Or use their secure online service to request an appointment.

Rectal Cancer Q & A

Is rectal cancer different from colon cancer?

The rectum is the final portion of your large intestine. It’s about 6 inches (15 centimeters) long, begins where your colon ends, and connects to the opening (anus) where stool exits the body. As waste passes from your colon, it’s stored temporarily in the rectum until you have a bowel movement.

Rectal cancer develops in the rectum and is similar to colon cancer, but treatments are very different due to the relatively small space in which the rectum sits. For instance, its proximity to other organs means surgery to remove the cancer is quite complex and often complicated by the rectum’s short length. 

On the other hand, rectal cancer is more amenable than colon cancer to radiation therapy. Your surgeon may recommend undergoing radiation therapy to help shrink tumor size before rectal cancer surgery. Unfortunately, it is possible to develop both colon and rectal cancer. This is usually referred to as colorectal cancer, and treatments must focus on both.

What are the symptoms of rectal cancer?

Rectal cancer symptoms are often vague initially and easy to confuse with other conditions. You may, for instance, experience:

  • More frequent bowel movements than usual
  • Dark maroon or bright red blood in your stool
  • Frequent constipation or diarrhea
  • Narrow stool
  • The sensation that your bowel doesn't empty completely
  • Abdominal pain
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Weakness or fatigue

Although worrisome, these symptoms may also indicate hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and numerous other noncancerous conditions. 

What causes rectal cancer?

Like other cancers, rectal cancer develops when changes in cellular DNA cause abnormal, unrestricted cell growth. It’s unclear why some people develop rectal cancer, but factors that increase your risk include:

  • Family history of colon or rectal cancer
  • Age, more common over 50
  • Personal history of colon polyps or cancer
  • Excess weight
  • History of Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis
  • Poorly controlled type 2 diabetes
  • Physical inactivity
  • Excessive alcohol use

Diets that include lots of red meat but few vegetables may also increase your risk of developing rectal cancer.

How do you treat rectal cancer?

Rectal cancer treatment usually includes surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Your FCRS surgeon may recommend presurgical chemotherapy and radiation therapy to shrink cancer before scheduling surgery for large tumors.

Always schedule an appointment with a specialist if you develop concerning symptoms, especially if you’re at increased risk of rectal cancer. Call the nearest FCRS today or request an appointment online.

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