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Making the Rounds: Rectal cancer

Last Modified: 8/30/2019

While similar to colon cancer, rectal cancer resides in the tight pelvis area which, as Brian Chang, MD, Radiation Oncology Associates, Parkview Cancer Institute, explains, requires a different approach.

In order to treat malignant cells in the tissues around the rectum, the oncologist will typically recommend chemotherapy and radiation first to shrink the tumor so the surgeon has a better chance of removing the tumor in its entirety.

The three primary risk factors associated with rectal cancer are age, gender and alcohol consumption. If a patient suspects rectal cancer, the first step is to establish the location of the tumor as well as confirm the diagnosis using a scope, such as with a colonoscopy. The care team will run blood tests and diagnostic imaging to evaluate the extent of the cancer before working to a develop a customized treatment plan.

Care teams at the Parkview Cancer Institute use a multi-disciplinary approach to treatment and review each case together at a weekly Tumor Board meeting. This plan includes support services as well, to ensure patients have the resources they need to navigate their cancer journey.


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