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Rectal Cancer


Updated: July 18, 2007

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Illustration by Donna Myers © 2007

Our bodies are made up of billions of cells that grow, divide, and then die in a predictable manner. Cancer occurs when something goes wrong with this system, causing uncontrolled cell division and growth. Cancer cells lump together and form a mass of extra tissue, also known as a cancerous tumor. When cancer cells are present in the rectum, it's referred to as rectal cancer.

Since rectal cancer can grow for years without causing any symptoms, it's best to get regular colorectal cancer screenings. But, knowing what to look out for can't hurt. Examples of rectal cancer symptoms include thin stools, stomach cramping, bright red blood on your poop, and feeling like you have to "go" when you don't.

Being age 50 or older is the number one risk factor for colorectal cancer. Examples of things that researchers believe increase rectal cancer risk include alcohol, smoking, inflammatory bowel disease, and obesity.

Surgery is the most common treatment method and is often combined with chemo/radiation to treat late-stage rectal cancer.

For more information, please read What is Colorectal Cancer?

Related Articles: Sources:
  1. Chemotherapy. Adam Healthcare Center. 27 Aug. 2006 [http://adam.about.com/encyclopedia/002324.htm].
  2. Detailed Guide: Colon and Rectum Cancer: How Is Colorectal Cancer Treated? American Cancer Society. 7 Mar. 2006. 27 Aug. 2006 [http://www.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/content/CRI_2_4_4x_How_is_colorectal_cancer_treated_10.asp?sitearea=].
  3. Large Bowel Resection Series. Adam Healthcare Center. 27 Aug. 2006 [http://adam.about.com/encyclopedia/100089.htm].
  4. Radiation Therapy. Adam Healthcare Center. 27 Aug. 2006 [http://adam.about.com/encyclopedia/001918.htm].
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