What Are the Risks of Rectal Cancer Surgery?

For many stages of rectal cancer, surgery is the most common form of treatment. To address a relatively small tumor that has not spread beyond the bowel wall, surgery may be the only treatment necessary. Sometimes, it is possible to remove a rectal tumor though the anus, leaving the rectum intact. However, in some cases, part or all of the rectum must be removed in order to eliminate as much of the cancer as possible and reduce the risk of recurrence.

While surgery can be very effective for treating rectal cancer, it does involve some challenges. For instance, some parts of the pelvic region are very narrow, making the area difficult for a surgeon to access. Additionally, a surgeon must work around a series of sensitive nerves that control bladder, bowel and sexual function. For these reasons, chemotherapy or radiation therapy may be recommended to shrink a rectal tumor prior to surgery.

Advanced surgical techniques for treating rectal cancer

In the Gastrointestinal Oncology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center, our surgeons use advanced techniques to minimize surgical risks and help our patients achieve the best possible outcome and quality of life. These include:

  • Minimally invasive techniques, such as laparoscopy and robotic surgery using the da Vinci® Surgical System
  • Nerve-preserving techniques
  • Coloanal reconstruction surgery, a procedure in which a surgeon removes the rectum and connects the upper colon directly to the anus
  • Colonic reservoir surgery, a procedure in which a surgeon loops two sections of the lower colon together and opens up the wall between them to construct an internal colon pouch (J-Pouch)

Recognized as a leader in incorporating minimally invasive surgical techniques into rectal cancer treatment, Moffitt is also involved in a wide range of scientific studies. Many of our clinical trials have led to significant breakthroughs in the field of rectal cancer surgery.

If you’d like to learn more about rectal cancer surgery, you can request an appointment by calling 1-888-663-3488 or completing our new patient registration form online. You do not need a referral to consult with a gastrointestinal oncologist at Moffitt.