Rectal Cancer

Rectum is an organ hidden deep in the pelvis (hip bone). Conventional open rectal cancer surgery is difficult due to poor visibility (see image). However, robotic & laparoscopic rectal cancer surgery gives better quality vision to the surgeon.

A laparoscopically skilled cancer surgeon can operate using laparoscopy giving superior results to a rectal cancer patient. With laparoscopic rectal cancer surgery, the trauma is much less and that makes the treatment more acceptable to the patient.

Robotic surgery is more advanced form of laparoscopy making it easier to perform more complex surgeries, especially for those tumors lying very low in the rectum and after chemo-radiotherapy. Robotic surgery makes it possible to preserve anus in more number of patients.


Large bowel is made of colon and rectum (back passage). The rectum is the final straight portion of the large intestine. It terminates in the anus. The human rectum is about 12 cm long.

Rectum stores our waste before defecation. An intact anal sphincter or muscles is required for holding the waste (feces) till defecation. Tumors of this portion of large bowel are relatively common.

Most common type of cancer is adenocarcinoma. Rare tumors like melanomas, gatro-intestinal stromal tumor (GIST) and lymphomas are also seen in rectum.


Often there are no early symptoms of rectal cancer. Screening methods are available that can detect colonic and rectal cancer before symptoms appear. When detected early, these cases can be cured with much simpler surgery.As the cancer advances, rectal cancer symptoms may become more persistent and severe. The development of tumors in the rectum or anal canal may

  • Change the consistency, shape or frequency of bowel movements (constipation or diarrhea).
  • A feeling of not being able to completely empty the bowel is common.
  • Rectal bleeding may make the stool bright red. A bleeding tumor may also change the color of the stools, sometimes making the stool very dark or tarry looking.

Other generalized symptoms of rectal cancer are seen later in the disease. These may include:

  • Pain in the back passage or rectum or abdomen or cramps
  • Feeling bloated or full
  • Change in appetite
  • weight loss, fatigue or tiredness

Rectal cancer is diagnosed by clinical rectal examination and proctoscopy/ colonoscopy. A biopsy is performed during these procedures to prove the diagnosis.

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