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Rectal Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Patient Information [NCI] - Treatment Options by Stage


Treatment of stage IV and recurrent rectal cancer may include the following:

  • Resection with or without a combination of radiation therapy and chemotherapy before surgery.
  • Resection or pelvic exenteration, as palliative therapy to relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life.
  • Radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of both, as palliative therapy to relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life.
  • Chemotherapy to control the growth of the tumor.
  • Placement of a stent to help keep the rectum open if it is partly blocked by the tumor, as palliative therapy to relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life.
  • Systemic chemotherapy with or without monoclonal antibody therapy, such as bevacizumab.
  • A clinical trial of a new anticancer drug.

Treatment of rectal cancer that has spread to other organs depends on which organ the cancer has spread to.

  • Treatment for areas of cancer that have spread to the liver includes the following:
    • Cryosurgery or radiofrequency ablation.
    • Chemoembolization or systemic chemotherapy.
    • Internal radiation therapy.
    • Surgery to remove the tumor. Chemotherapy may be given before surgery to shrink the tumor.
    • A clinical trial of chemoembolization combined with radiation therapy to the tumors in the liver.
  • Treatment for areas of cancer that has spread to the lung or ovaries is surgery.

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage IV rectal cancer and recurrent rectal cancer. For more specific results, refine the search by using other search features, such as the location of the trial, the type of treatment, or the name of the drug. General information about clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.


WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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