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Surgery is one of the most common treatments for rectal cancer. Depending on the stage of rectal cancer at the time of diagnosis, surgery may be just one component of the overall treatment plan. Some patients are recommended to receive treatment before surgery (neoadjuvant), which may include radiation, chemotherapy, or both. There are several different surgical procedures that can be performed, each of which may be recommended in different scenarios. For instance, if the cancer is small and has not spread beyond its original location, a surgeon may recommend a local excision to remove the tumor and a small margin of surrounding healthy tissue.

If cancer has grown into nearby lymph nodes, a surgeon may suggest a low anterior resection (LAR) or an abdominoperineal resection (APR) to remove the cancerous part of the rectum and affected lymph nodes. The location of rectal cancer with the rectum is very important to know, as this will factor into what type of surgery is best. For rectal cancers that are very low down and close to the anal opening, the muscles controlling continence may require removal with the rectum, so that the anus also requires removal. For these rectal cancers, a colostomy bag is connected to a small opening in the abdomen for the collection of waste.

Advanced rectal cancer surgery options

At Moffitt Cancer Center, we use a variety of advanced techniques for performing rectal cancer surgery to help our patients achieve the best possible outcomes and quality of life. We have surgeons who specialize in:

  • Laparoscopic (keyhole) procedures, which use small incisions into the abdomen and introduce instruments to perform removal of the rectum
  • Robotic procedures, which use small incisions and the da Vinci® Surgical System to remove the rectum with a high level of precision
  • Low anterior resection (LAR) involves the removal of the rectum.
  • Nerve-preserving techniques, which are intended to help patients retain sexual and urinary function after rectal cancer surgery
  • Transanal microscopic surgery (TAMIS) procedures, in which surgical instruments are inserted through the anus to allow a local excision of the cancer
  • Colonic reservoir surgery, in which a small pouch is made out of the colon to help improve the timing and ease of bowel movements

Comprehensive rectal cancer treatment

Moffitt’s rectal cancer surgeons work hand-in-hand with our medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, certified ostomy nurses, and supportive care providers to make sure that each patient’s treatment plan is designed for optimal results. This multispecialty approach is one of the key reasons that Moffitt’s rectal cancer outcomes routinely exceed the national averages.

If you’d like to learn more about our approach to rectal cancer surgery, call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online to request a consultation with a member of our team. You do not need a physician’s referral to do so. 

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