The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 43,000 new rectal cancer cases will be diagnosed in 2020. If you face a diagnosis of rectal cancer, board-certified, fellowship-trained physicians M. Jonathan Worsey, MD, FRCS, FACS, FASCRS, and Keith Beiermeister, MD, FACS, FASCRS, at San Diego Colon and Rectal Surgeons in La Jolla, California, have the exceptional skills and experience to treat rectal cancer. To schedule an appointment, call or use the online booking feature today.

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What increases my risk of developing rectal cancer?

Rectal cancer develops from polyps that grow in the tissues lining the rectum. The rectum is the final six inches of the large intestine.

Rectal polyps begin as noncancerous (benign) growths. If the polyps aren’t removed, they can mutate and rapidly grow, developing into a cluster of cancerous cells.

Your risk of developing rectal cancer goes up if you:

  • Consume a diet high in red, processed, or charred meats
  • Are overweight or obese
  • Don’t get enough exercise
  • Drink too much alcohol
  • Smoke cigarettes

Can I prevent rectal cancer?

You can prevent rectal cancer with a screening colonoscopy to detect and remove the polyps before they turn into cancer. When to schedule your first rectal cancer screening depends on your age, medical history, family history, and risk factors.

If your risk is average, screening typically begins at 50. You should come in sooner if you have a higher risk of developing rectal cancer.

What symptoms develop if I have rectal cancer?

Rectal cancer doesn’t usually cause symptoms until it reaches an advanced stage. When symptoms develop, however, you can experience:

  • Change in bowel habits (constipation or diarrhea)
  • Narrow-shaped stools
  • Blood in your stool
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Pelvic pain
  • Fatigue

Several other health problems can cause these same symptoms. Don’t wait to schedule an appointment with San Diego Colon and Rectal Surgeons when you have ongoing symptoms.

How is rectal cancer treated?

Before planning your treatment, your physician stages the cancer to determine the best course of action. Staging typically requires an MRI of the pelvis and a CT of the abdomen and pelvis.

All cases of rectal cancer require surgery to remove the tumor, nearby lymph nodes, and the tissues immediately surrounding the tumor. You might also need radiation and/or chemotherapy before surgery to shrink the tumor and after surgery to kill any residual cancer cells.

Dr. Worsey and Dr. Beiermeister typically use minimally invasive surgery to remove the tumor and restore intestinal integrity when your cancer is in its early stages.

Most upper and mid-rectal cancers can be removed without needing a colostomy. However, the doctors may need to create a permanent colostomy after removing advanced cancers in the lower rectum.

The rectum’s proximity to the anal sphincter requires the surgical expertise and fellowship training of Dr. Worsey and Dr. Beiermeister to prevent serious complications during cancer surgery.

If you need professional and compassionate care for rectal cancer, call San Diego Colon and Rectal Surgeons or book an appointment online.