Rectal cancer most often occurs in older adults, but it’s increasingly being diagnosed in patients aged 40 and younger. Aalok Sahai, MD, helps you prevent rectal cancer by assessing your risk and performing early screening when needed. When rectal cancer is detected, you can depend on his expertise in minimally invasive surgery to remove cancerous tissues, including robot-assisted surgery using the advanced da Vinci® Surgical System. To schedule an appointment, call Sahai Surgical Specialists in Chandler, Arizona, or use the online booking feature.
Rectal Cancer Q & A
What is rectal cancer?
Rectal cancer develops when polyps that grow in the rectum grow abnormally and become cancerous. The rectum, which forms the last part of your large intestine, holds stool until you go to the bathroom.
These factors increase your risk for rectal cancer:
- Personal history of inflammatory bowel disease
- A family history of colon or rectal cancer
- Personal history of colon or ovarian cancer
- Smoking cigarettes
- Drinking three or more alcoholic beverages daily
- Being obese
Your chances of developing rectal cancer also go up as you get older.
What symptoms develop if I have rectal cancer?
The symptoms of rectal cancer include:
- Blood in your stool, either bright red or very dark
- Change in your bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation
- Feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely
- Stools that are narrower or have a different shape than normal
- Abdominal discomfort, such as gas pain, bloating, or cramps
- Change in appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
- Feeling fatigued
These symptoms don’t mean you have cancer — they may be caused by a variety of problems — but it’s important to protect your health and schedule an exam with Dr. Sahai.
How is rectal cancer diagnosed?
In addition to a physical exam and blood work, rectal cancer is diagnosed with a digital rectal exam to check for lumps and a colonoscopy. During a colonoscopy, Dr. Sahai can detect and remove polyps, take a biopsy, and diagnose any other problems that may cause your symptoms.
The polyps and other tissues removed during your colonoscopy are sent to a lab, where they’re evaluated for cancerous cells.
How is rectal cancer treated?
When rectal cancer is caught at an early stage, removing the polyp may be the only treatment you need. If your lab results show cancer cells at the edge of the tissues removed during your colonoscopy, Dr. Sahai performs minimally invasive surgery to remove the affected portion of your rectum.
Dr. Sahai may perform your surgery using the da Vinci Surgical System. The da Vinci is a robotic system that’s controlled by Dr. Sahai, who uses the small, robotized arms to reach tight areas and perform delicate procedures with greater precision.
If the cancer has spread beyond the rectum, your treatment includes some combination of chemotherapy and radiation along with surgery, depending on the stage of your cancer and your overall health.
If you notice blood in your stool or you have a change in bowel habits, call Sahai Surgical Specialists or book an appointment online.