Types of Rectal Cancer

There are several types of rectal cancer. Oncologists typically classify these cancers based on the type of cells that are present in a tumor; this helps them select the most appropriate treatments.

Most rectal cancers are adenocarcinomas, meaning that they develop in the glandular cells that line the inner surface of the rectum. Other, rarer types of rectal cancer include:

  • Small cell carcinomas, which start in the neuroendocrine cells that line the small intestine. Most small cell carcinomas develop in the lungs, but a small number do originate in the digestive tract. 
  • Squamous cell carcinomas, which develop in the outer layer of the digestive tract. Oncologists believe that this type of rectal cancer may be partially triggered by chronic inflammatory conditions and gastrointestinal tract infections.
  • Melanomas, which develop in the skin cells. Less than 1 percent of all melanomas develop in the anus or the rectum, and almost all of these form in the skin around the anus.

At Moffitt Cancer Center, our oncologists have substantial experience in treating each of the unique types of colorectal cancer. We have had opportunities to treat even the rarest forms of this condition. And, because we understand that each patient has a unique set of needs, we go above and beyond to ensure that each patient receives the individualized attention he or she deserves – from the first steps of the diagnostic process through the recovery period and beyond.

Patients are welcome to meet with our oncologists with or without referrals. To learn more about the various types of rectal cancer and our approach to treating each unique malignancy, call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online.