Rectal Cancer Treatment Center
Rectal cancer and colon cancer combined – known collectively as colorectal cancer or CRC – are the third most frequently diagnosed cancers in the United States.
They are also the second most deadly. Due to the location of the rectum and its proximity to other organs, rectal tumors demand specialized treatments and care that differs from tumors in other parts of the gastrointestinal tract.
What Is Rectal Cancer?
Rectal cancer is a type of cancer that develops in the rectum, the final section of the large intestine, beginning at the last segment of the colon and ending at the short passage that reaches the anus.
Although rectal cancer is often discussed at the same time as colon cancer, the conditions sometimes require distinct treatment approaches. The rectum is located in a small, tightly packed area with very little separation from other bodily structures and organs. Surgical removal of the cancer is therefore complex.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Rectal Cancer?
People with rectal cancer may experience the following signs and symptoms:
- A lump in the anus or rectum
- Abdominal pain
- Blood in the stool
- Blood in the urine
- Fatigue or muscle weakness
- More frequent bowel movements
- Narrow stool
- Unexplained weight loss
What Are the Causes and Risk Factors for Rectal Cancer?
Rectal cancer begins when healthy rectum cells develop mutations in their DNA. Where healthy cells grow steadily and die at a set time, cancerous cells multiply out of control and continue living. Over time, this rapid growth accumulates into a tumor and may affect surrounding tissue or separate and spread to distant areas of the body.
One of the risk factors for rectal cancer is inherited gene mutations. Gene mutations are passed on from parents to their children and are involved in a small percentage of rectal cancer diagnoses. Two genetic syndromes that may increase a person’s likelihood of developing rectal cancer include:
- Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), a rare syndrome that causes many polyps to grow in the lining of the rectum and colon. Left untreated, the disorder can increase the risk of rectal and colon cancer before age 40.
- Lynch syndrome, also called hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC), increases the risk of a person developing rectal cancer before age 50.
In addition to the gene mutations listed above, other factors can put a person at an increased risk of developing rectal cancer. These include:
- A diet low in vegetables and high in red meat. Rectal cancer may be connected to low vegetable and high red meat intakes. Meat that is charred may increase this risk.
- African ancestry. People with African ancestry born in the US are at an increased risk of developing rectal cancer.
- Diabetes. Poorly managed type 2 diabetes may increase a person’s risk of rectal cancer.
- Family history. A person is more likely to develop rectal cancer if a close relative, such as a parent, child, or sibling, has been diagnosed with rectal or colon cancer.
- History of polyps or colorectal cancer. A person’s risk of rectal cancer is higher if they have already had adenomatous polyps or colon cancer.
- Inflammatory bowel disease. Chronic inflammatory diseases of the rectum and colon can increase a person’s risk of rectal cancer. These include ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.
- Insufficient exercise. Regular physical activity can help reduce the risk of rectal cancer.
- Obesity. People of a higher weight may be more likely to be diagnosed with rectal cancer than people of a healthy weight.
- Older age. Most people diagnosed with rectal cancer are age 50 or older.
- Radiation therapy. People who have undergone radiation therapy as a treatment for another type of cancer may be at a higher risk of rectal cancer.
- Smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. Smoking and drinking more than three alcoholic beverages per week may elevate the risk of rectal cancer.
How Is Rectal Cancer Traditionally Treated?
Rectal cancer is traditionally treated with surgery. However, because of the location of the rectum, this may not be a straightforward undertaking. The risks associated with rectal surgery depend on the patient’s health, the stage of the cancer, how aggressive the cancer is, and the scope of the operation, but they generally include infections, bleeding, and blood clots in the legs.
In addition to or instead of surgery, a patient may undergo chemotherapy. Chemotherapy uses toxic drugs to kill cancer cells and comes with a long list of adverse side effects that can limit the quality of life, including:
- Changes to the skin and nails
- Easy bruising
- Hair loss
- Increased risk of infection
- Mouth sores
- Weight loss
In some cases, conventional doctors may recommend a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy, which uses powerful rays similar to X-rays to eliminate cancer cells.
The use of adjuvant chemotherapy in the treatment of rectal cancer is widespread but continues to be a contentious issue. Control trials have failed to prove the positive effect of adjuvant chemotherapy on survival and rates of metastases (when the cancer spreads to distant areas of the body).
How We Treat Rectal Cancer Holistically
At Brio-Medical, we take a holistic and integrative approach to treating rectal cancer — an approach that both targets the tumor and heals the body, preserving comfort and quality of life. We give patients just like you access to leading-edge technologies and innovative, science-backed therapies that attack cancer’s weaknesses while empowering your immune systems.
For example, in the holistic treatment of rectal cancer, we focus on diet and proper gut balancing to reduce inflammation. We leverage photodynamic therapy while implementing IV therapy that gives the body high doses of healing, cancer-fighting curcumin, and vitamin C. Crucially, we design our treatment programs around you, what you want, and what you need. You are an individual, and we acknowledge the unique aspects of your health journey.
If you are ready to learn more about our holistic treatment options, please contact our patient care coordinators today.
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