Cancer of the rectum is a type of cancer that starts in the cells of the rectum, which is the last part of the large intestine that connects to the anus. The rectum plays an important role in the digestive system by storing feces until they are ready to be expelled from the body.
The most common type of cancer that occurs in the rectum is adenocarcinoma, which develops from the glandular cells that line the inside of the rectum. Other types of rectal cancer include squamous cell carcinoma, neuroendocrine tumors, and sarcomas.
The exact cause of rectal cancer is not fully understood, but certain risk factors have been identified, such as a family history of colorectal cancer, a history of polyps in the colon or rectum, a diet high in red meat and processed foods, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle.
Symptoms of rectal cancer may include changes in bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation, blood in the stool, abdominal pain or discomfort, weight loss, and fatigue. However, some people with rectal cancer may not experience any symptoms.
Treatment for rectal cancer depends on the stage of the cancer, which is determined by the size of the tumor, whether it has spread to nearby lymph nodes or other parts of the body, and other factors. Treatment may include surgery to remove the tumor, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of these approaches.
Regular screening for colorectal cancer, including rectal cancer, is recommended for people who are at increased risk due to age or other factors. Screening tests may include a colonoscopy, fecal occult blood test, or stool DNA test. Early detection and treatment can improve the chances of successful treatment and recovery.