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Colorectal Cancer Health Center

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Rectal Cancer Treatment by Stage

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Stage IV Rectal Cancer continued...

The mainstay of treatment is chemotherapy, but surgery to remove the tumor may also be recommended. Surgery, when performed, is often used to relieve or prevent blockage of the rectum or to prevent rectal bleeding. It is not generally considered a curative procedure. Surgeries of this type can also help a patient with stage IV rectal cancer live longer.

If there are only one or two liver tumors, they can be removed surgically. Other options include freezing the tumors (cryosurgery) or destroying them with microwaves or heat (radiofrequency ablation). Other nonsurgical directed therapies include giving chemotherapy directly into the liver using radioactive isotopes (radioembolization) or cutting off the blood supply to the tumor in the liver (embolization). Often, chemotherapy directly into the liver is used with embolization (chemoembolization).

Recurrent Rectal Cancer

Recurrent rectal cancer means the cancer has come back after treatment. The cancer can recur near the site of the original cancer in the rectum (local recurrence) or in distant organs. Treatment includes:

  • Surgery to remove local recurrences; studies show that this can help patients live longer.
  • If surgery can't remove all of the recurrences, many experts recommend chemotherapy with or without radiation. This can sometimes shrink the tumor enough to allow surgical removal of the tumor afterwards.

Patients may ask their doctors if there are clinical trials in which they can participate that are testing new treatments.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by William Blahd, MD on August 01, 2014
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