Rectal cancers require accurate staging, typically with an MRI, followed by surgery. Our surgeons perform most surgeries for rectal cancer using minimally invasive techniques, offering the benefit of smaller incisions, less pain after surgery, a shorter hospital stay and faster recovery. Your treatment path will depend on the extent of your cancer. For early stage rectal cancers, we can perform a local excision (a smaller operation that removes the cancer through the rectum). If your rectal cancer is more advanced, you may need radiation and/or chemotherapy, followed by surgery. A small number of patients experience a complete response to the radiation or chemotherapy and can potentially avoid surgery, although they will need frequent check-ups to make sure the cancer hasn’t returned.
We have a high cure rate for rectal cancer that is caught early, and most patients retain their bowel function, though some may require a temporary stoma or intestinal opening on your abdomen. If your cancer has spread to other organs, you can be treated successfully with our aggressive surgical approach. If your cancer has spread throughout your abdomen, we use a unique treatment option called hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) to bathe your abdominal cavity with hot chemotherapy to eliminate the majority of microscopic cancer cells that might remain after surgery.
Our physicians are faculty members at the University of Minnesota Medical School and are involved in colorectal cancer research, as well as research involving familial colorectal cancer, pelvic floor disorders, accidental bowel leakage, diverticulitis, colorectal surgery outcomes and health informatics. Ask your surgeon about participating in one of our clinical trials.