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Signs and Symptoms of Rectal Cancer

Rectal cancer is a cancer that develops in the rectum, which is the last ten inches of the colon. Rectal and colorectal cancer are essentially the same, with the only difference being the location of the cancer in the colon. Both cancers begin as small clumps of precancerous tissue called adenomatous polyps.  Although most of these polyps are benign, some can develop into cancer over time. We have put together a list of common signs and symptoms of rectal cancer below.

Also, we have information on diagnosis, helpful books and valuable resources for patients.

The Signs and Symptoms of Rectal Cancer are as follows:

  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Blood in the stool
  • Constipation
  • Pain during a bowel movement
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Abdominal distention
  • Vomiting
  • Very thin stool
  • Feeling like the stool cannot be completely evacuated
  • Weight loss
  • Iron-deficiency anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Pale skin

Rectal cancer may not cause any signs and symptoms in its earliest stages, and none of the above symptoms is diagnostic of colon cancer per se. However, rectal bleeding or anemia in combination with the above signs and symptoms are high risk factors.

The risk of developing rectal cancer increases with age. Those under age fifty are unlikely to get rectal cancer, unless there is a history of colon cancer in the family.

Polyps in the rectum are a risk factor for developing rectal cancer. Regular screening is the best way to prevent rectal cancer. The cure rate is high when the cancerous polyps are treated and removed in the earliest stages.

Diagnosis of Rectal Cancer

A diagnosis of rectal cancer is often made through a colonoscopy screening. A colonoscopy is considered the best way to diagnose colon and rectal cancer. If a doctor discovers suspicious polyps during the colonoscopy, they are immediately removed. Larger tumors need to be removed surgically. A virtual colonoscopy is also sometimes used, although it is not as accurate as traditional colonoscopy for detecting polyps.

Books For People with Signs and Symptoms of Rectal Cancer

Colon & Rectal Cancer: A Comprehensive Guide for Patients & Families
Lorraine Johnston
Positive Options for Colorectal Cancer: Self-Help and Treatment
Carol Ann Larson
Colon & Rectal Cancer: From Diagnosis to Treatment
Paul Ruggieri
Medifocus Guidebook on: Colorectal Cancer

Rectal Cancer Resources

General Patient Resources

  • National Cancer Institute

Expert-reviewed information summary about the treatment of rectal cancer.

  • Cancer Treatment Centers of America

For personalized colon rectum cancer treatment plans that focus on the patient, not just the disease, visit Cancer Treatment Centers of America today.

  • About . com

Learn more about rectal cancer, including the causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention of rectal cancer.

  • E Medicine Health

Read about rectal cancer (cancer of the rectum), which affects the lower part of the colon that connects to the anus. Learn about risk factors, symptoms, signs, diagnosis amd more.

  • Better Medicine

Information Including Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Causes, Videos, Forums, and local community support. Find answers to health issues you can trust.

  • Cancer Compass

Our online rectal cancer forum at offers helpful resources and support for patients. Join now to research additional information about treatment strategies and more.,0,119,29.htm

  • Med Help

Rectal Cancer Help Forum. This forum is for help, questions and support regarding Rectal Cancer.

  • Cancer Forums

Shared knowledge of thousands of people about Colon & Rectal Cancer.

Medical Resources

  • Mayo Clinic

Learn about comprehensive diagnosis and treatment for rectal cancer at Mayo Clinic.

  • Medline Plus

A service of the US National Library of Medicine.

  • Web MD

Colorectal cancer overview from the Colorectal Cancer Health Center.