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Currently, around one third of rectal cancer survivors experience a recurrence at some point during their lives, meaning that their cancer will come back after a period of remission. However, treatment options are continually improving, and many different options can be used to reduce the likelihood of a recurrence, or to address recurrent tumors and their resulting symptoms. Surgery, for instance, may be suggested to remove cancerous cells and alleviate bowel obstruction, while chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy may be recommended as well.

At Moffitt Cancer Center, we take a unique approach to treating recurrent rectal cancers. Our oncologists consider the potential outcome of each possible treatment, as well as the impact it may have on a patient’s quality of life. Additionally, patients’ treatment plans are reviewed by our multispecialty tumor board. This ensures that the therapies being used to treat a patient’s rectal cancer recurrence are either working as intended or being adjusted as necessary.

Depending on the stage, location and extent of a patient’s tumor, our team may recommend one or more of the following therapies:

  • Complete resection (surgical removal) for a tumor that has not invaded the pelvic wall
  • Total pelvic exenteration (a more extensive form of surgery) for tumors that have started to spread to other nearby structures
  • Intraoperative radiation therapy (the application of radioactive materials to a tumor site while a surgical procedure is being performed)
  • Moderate-dose radiation therapy to the site of the original tumor, followed by high-dose radiation therapy to the site of the recurrent cancer
  • Low-dose radiation therapy to alleviate pain and other side effects
  • Chemotherapy to treat distant metastases

Patients seeking treatment for a rectal cancer recurrence may also consider enrolling in one of our carefully designed clinical trials. As a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Moffitt is nationally recognized for its research efforts, including the clinical trials we host to give our patients access to promising new therapies.

For more information about coming to Moffitt, call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online. Patients can consult with our oncologists about treatment for a rectal cancer recurrence with or without physician referrals.


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