Skip to nav Skip to content

Rectal cancer develops in the rectum, which is the last section of the large intestine. Typically, it begins as a raised growth known as a polyp and slowly develops into a cancerous tumor. If the cancer continues to progress, it can eventually spread to other areas of the body. At this point, it is known as stage 4 or metastatic rectal cancer, which often spreads to the liver, lungs, peritoneum or bones.

Symptoms of metastatic rectal cancer

Advanced stages of rectal cancer can cause the following symptoms:

  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Pain in the rectum
  • Pain when passing stool
  • Changes in the appearance of the stool
  • Bloody stool
  • Passing stool more frequently

In addition, metastatic rectal cancer may cause other symptoms depending on where it has spread. For instance, if it spreads to the lungs, shortness of breath or a chronic cough may occur. Alternatively, if it spreads to the liver, a person may experience fatigue, jaundice and abdominal bloating.

Metastatic rectal cancer treatment

If you have symptoms of metastatic rectal cancer, the first step is to consult with a physician, as other conditions can cause similar symptoms. Your physician will be able to run any diagnostic tests necessary to confirm or rule out metastatic rectal cancer as the cause.

There are a number of treatment options for metastatic rectal cancer, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery or a combination of treatments. At Moffitt Cancer Center, we provide our patients with individualized treatment plans developed based on their unique needs to help ensure the best chance at a successful outcome and improved quality of life. To request an appointment at Moffitt and learn more about our metastatic rectal cancer treatment options, call 1-888-663-3488 or fill out a new patient registration form online. We do not require a referral for an initial consultation.