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Rectal Cancer Treatment

Systemic Therapy
Chemotherapy is a type of systemic rectal cancer treatment. In chemotherapy, medicines enter the bloodstream and destroy or control cancer throughout the body. Some people with rectal cancer have systemic therapy to shrink the tumor before surgery or radiation. Others have systemic therapy after surgery and/or radiation to prevent the cancer from coming back. Systemic rectal cancer treatment is also used for cancer that has spread.

Possible Side Effects of Rectal Cancer Treatment

Because rectal cancer treatment often damages healthy cells and tissues, side effects are common. Side effects depend mainly on the type and extent of the treatment. Side effects may not be the same for each person, and they may change from one treatment session to the next.
Before rectal cancer treatment starts, your healthcare team will explain possible side effects and suggest ways to help you manage them. Also, at any stage of disease, supportive care is available to:
  • Control pain and other symptoms
  • Relieve the side effects of rectal cancer treatment
  • Ease emotional concerns.

Rectal Cancer Treatment: Clinical Trials

Before starting rectal cancer treatment, patients may want to consider taking part in a rectal cancer clinical trial. A treatment clinical trial is a rectal cancer research study meant to help improve current treatments or obtain information on new treatments for people with the disease. When clinical trials show that a new rectal cancer treatment is better than the standard treatment, the new treatment may become the standard treatment.

Rectal Cancer Treatment: Follow-up Care

Follow-up care after treatment for rectal cancer is important. Even when there are no longer any signs of cancer, the disease sometimes returns because undetected cancer cells remain somewhere in the body after rectal cancer treatment.
During follow-up for rectal cancer treatment, your doctor will monitor recovery and check for recurrence of the cancer. Checkups help ensure that any changes in your health are noted and treated if needed. Between scheduled visits, you should contact the doctor if you have any health problems.
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Treatment for Rectal Cancer

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