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Cancer that forms in the tissues of the rectum (the last several inches of the large intestine closest to the anus).
The rectum is part of the body’s digestive system. The digestive system removes and processes nutrients (vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and water) from foods and helps pass waste material out of the body. The digestive system is made up of the esophagus, stomach, and the small and large intestines. The first 6 feet of the large intestine are called the large bowel or colon. The last 6 inches are the rectum and the anal canal. The anal canal ends at the anus (the opening of the large intestine to the outside of the body).
Anatomy of the lower digestive system, showing the colon and other organs.
See the following summary in the A-Z List of Cancers for more information about rectal cancer:
Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. Talk with your doctor if you think you may be at risk. The following are possible risk factors for rectal cancer:
These and other signs and symptoms may be caused by rectal cancer or by other conditions. Check with your doctor if you have any of the following:
Tests used to diagnose rectal cancer include the following:
Colonoscopy. A thin, lighted tube is inserted through the anus and rectum and into the colon to look for abnormal areas.
The prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options depend on the following:
Rectal NETs are amongst the most common intestinal NET, approximately 14%, and the most uncommon colorectal cancer, less than 1%. Around half of cases are diagnosed during tests or treatments for other conditions.
Rectal NETs can cause bleeding, constipation, or pain on defaecation (opening your bowels), but they may cause no symptoms at all - which may delay diagnosis.
For more information on rectal NETs, click here for a fact sheet by the NET Patient Foundation (UK).
For more information on Rectal Cancer click here
This link is to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) cancer website in the United States. There may be references to drugs and clinical trials that are not available here in Australia.
For information courtesy of Cancer Australia, please click here
Page last updated: 08/05/2020