What Is Rectal Cancer?
The rectum is the last few inches of the large intestine, starting at the end of the final segment of the colon and ending at the narrow passage that leads to the anus. Rectal cancer is cancer that affects or begins in the rectum. Cancer in the rectum and the colon together are referred to as colorectal cancer. Rectal cancer symptoms include changes in bowel habits, dark or bright blood in the stool, narrow stool, abdominal pain, rectal pain, and unexplained weight loss. At GI Specialists of Georgia, we have a team of highly trained and experienced physicians who specialize in diagnosing and treating rectal cancer. If you believe you are showing signs of rectal cancer or have been diagnosed with rectal cancer, contact us today to schedule a consultation for rectal cancer treatment in Atlanta, GA.
Rectal Cancer Symptoms & Causes of Rectal Cancer
The earliest signs of rectal cancer are:
- Rectal bleeding or bloody stool
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Changes in bowel habits
- Narrow stool
- Fatigue or weakness
- Abdominal pain
- Rectal pain
- Unexplained weight loss
Stages of Rectal Cancer
- Stage 0 – In this stage, cancer cells are present on the surface of the rectal lining.
- Stage 1 – In this stage, the tumor has grown below the rectal lining and into the rectal wall.
- Stage 2 – In this stage, the tumor has grown into the rectal wall and extends to tissues around the rectum.
- Stage 3 – In this stage, the tumor has invaded lymph nodes near the rectum and possibly some tissues outside the rectal wall.
- Stage 4 – In this stage, the tumor has spread to distant organs or lymph nodes.
Diagnosing the Signs of Rectal Cancer
Our team of physicians has access to on-site diagnostic testing and pathology laboratories that allow them to diagnose rectal cancer. The first step will be assessing your symptoms, lifestyle, overall health, medical history, and demographic information, such as your age and weight. We may run several tests to evaluate the health and condition of your colon and rectum and make an official diagnosis:
- Colonoscopy – A colonoscopy is a test that uses a long tube with a small camera attached to view the interior of your colon and rectum. This is the gold standard for the diagnosis of rectal cancer.
- Biopsy – A biopsy is a small sample of tissue that is analyzed for cancer cells, disease, or pathology at a lab.
- CT Scan – A computed tomography scan is an imaging test that uses targeted X-rays to obtain a detailed view of your bones, organs, and tissues.
- MRI – A magnetic resonance imaging scan uses radio waves and magnets to obtain images of your body.
- PET Scan – A positron emission tomography scan requires that you drink a special dye containing radioactive tracers. This highlights areas of disease during a scan of the body.
How Do GI Specialists of Georgia Treat Rectal Cancer?
We take an aggressive, proactive method toward treatment for rectal cancer. We will assess the location, size, and stage of your tumor as well as your overall health. We will then discuss your personal preferences and give you as much information as possible about your choices and options so you can make an informed decision. In addition to surgical rectal cancer treatment, we may suggest:
- Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy may be recommended before or after surgery to shrink a tumor or kill any remaining cancer cells.
- Radiation Therapy – Radiation therapy can be used before or after surgery to kill cancer cells and keep them from growing or dividing.
- Immunotherapy – Immunotherapy is drugs that are used to boost your immune system and teach your body how to fight cancer cells.
- Targeted Drug Therapy – Targeted drug therapy is recommended for advanced rectal cancer and is combined with chemotherapy. The treatment targets abnormalities in the cancer cells to kill them off.
Options for Surgical Treatment for Rectal Cancer
Surgery targets cancer cells, intending to remove as much of the cancer as possible before progressing with other treatment methods. Our surgical options include:
- TEMS – Transanal endoscopic microsurgery is a procedure during which the surgeon removes small cancers from the rectum by inserting a scope into your anus. We may recommend this treatment method if your tumor is small, contained in one area, and unlikely to spread.
- Low Anterior Resection – A low anterior resection may be recommended for large rectal cancers. The anus is preserved while the cancer is removed from the rectum.
- APR – Abdominoperineal resection is recommended when cancer is near the anus and can’t be removed without damaging the muscles that control your bowel movements. We may need to remove the anus, rectum, and part of the colon. A colostomy is used to allow waste to exit the body.
Why Choose GI Specialists of Georgia?
At GI Specialists of Georgia, we have been providing comprehensive and aggressive treatment of diseases and disorders of the digestive system, colon, liver, and pancreas since 2007. Our practice is the result of a merger of two other successful GI practices: Digestive Care Associates and Northwest Gastroenterology Associates. We are now a leader in the industry, taking a modern, collaborative approach to patient care and education. Our goal is to improve patient health by being proactive and providing education, assisting with dietary and lifestyle changes, and offering robust, aggressive treatment options with the best chance of success. We specialize in a variety of treatment methods, including medications, dietary and lifestyle counseling, supplements, and endoscopic intervention. We offer on-site diagnostics and imaging services, including colonoscopies, fibroscans, ultrasounds, and pathology lab services.
Contact Us to Discuss Treatment for Rectal Cancer
Call us today or contact us online to discuss your options for treatment for rectal cancer in Atlanta, GA. Our board-certified physicians operate out of our eight convenient office locations throughout Northwest Atlanta and our three endoscopy centers. We take a proactive, aggressive approach to rectal cancer treatment to help our patients live a happier, healthier life.