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Rectal Cancer Care

When you’re a patient at Providence, we don’t just treat your rectal cancer – we treat you. We use the most advanced treatments to create a highly personalized care plan. We also support you and your loved ones with a full range of services throughout your entire cancer journey. The result is effective, whole-person care for your body, mind and spirit.

Why Choose Us for Rectal Cancer Care?

At Providence, we see the life in you. Together, let’s finish cancer – so you don’t have to miss any of life’s special moments.

No two patients, or their treatment plans, are alike. This is why, at Providence, we take a highly personalized approach to your rectal cancer care. You’ll experience this through our multidisciplinary tumor boards, where your oncology team collaborates with other cancer care experts about your specific diagnosis. We also offer a Providence Molecular Tumor Board, where we evaluate your genomic and clinical information to find the best genetically matched treatment for you. Your oncology team will work with you directly to design a treatment plan that fits your personal needs. It’s an approach that combines leading-edge treatment with the compassionate care Providence is known for. Why? Because we know this results in the best outcomes.

As a patient, you’ll be supported through your entire cancer journey by a multidisciplinary cancer care team. You’ll be treated by board-certified medical oncologists, surgeons and radiation oncologists. We have a team of over 50 world-class colorectal surgeons who use advanced techniques to find the least invasive treatment options. The Providence network also has a colorectal surgery fellowship program to train the next generation of surgeons. It’s a team-based approach to rectal cancer care. Your care team may also include gastroenterologists, oncology nurse navigators, ostomy nurses and other cancer specialists. We also provide you and your family with a full range of support services well beyond conventional treatment, from genetic counseling and education to nutrition and pain management.

Learn more about the experts who make up our multidisciplinary cancer care teams.

Cancer doesn’t discriminate, but access to great rectal cancer care hasn’t always been the same for everyone. At Providence, we are deeply committed to making sure every patient we treat has access to the best cancer care. We offer various location-specific services to help our patients receive equitable care, such as translation for non-English-speaking patients, telehealth and transportation assistance. We value, respect and support the racial, ethnic, religious, spiritual, gender, and sexual identities of each member of our diverse communities, and we welcome all patients, regardless of their ability to pay. We aim to make sure every patient is treated equally and with dignity – whoever you are, and wherever you’re at.

As a patient at Providence, you have access to the largest community-based cancer network in the United States. Being part of a collaborative network means that your local rectal cancer care team shares knowledge and experience with other world-class clinicians across 51 hospitals in seven states. The extent and power of our network is one of the reasons more than 1,200 new rectal cancer patients, and 50,000 new cancer patients, choose Providence each year.

Providence is well known for offering options – and hope – to patients seeking the most advanced procedures and therapies to treat rectal cancer. For example, in one clinical trial, Providence researchers are investigating the use of Vitamin D3 as a supplement to help stabilize or shrink tumors in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer. As a patient, you have the opportunity to participate in one of more than 18 clinical trials for rectal cancer treatment happening across the Providence network.

About Rectal Cancer

Rectal cancer begins in the rectum, which is part of the large intestine between the colon and the anus. It often begins as a polyp, or a small clump of cells, in the rectum lining. The expert oncology teams at Providence use the most effective therapies to treat patients with every type of rectal cancer and its related conditions.

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Testing and Diagnostics

doctor reviews results with patient

Diagnostic tools help our cancer clinicians determine which therapies will work best for each patient, based on many factors like cancer type and the genetic or molecular profile of the tumor. Your doctors will use multiple advanced diagnostic and prognostic tools to help design your individualized treatment plan. Depending on your case, this may include one or more of the following:

Personalized Treatment for Rectal Cancer

We take a team approach to your rectal cancer treatment because we know this offers the best success in controlling and curing cancer. Your multidisciplinary cancer care team will work with you to design an individualized cancer care plan, from diagnosis to post-treatment support. We offer many different therapies across our Providence locations. Depending on your condition, your personal care plan may include one or more of the following:

Systemic therapies travel through the bloodstream and affect cells in other body parts. They are used for patients whose cancer has spread to other areas of the body or if there’s a high risk of spread. Sophisticated genetic analysis allows us to target therapies to specific DNA mutations that cause cancer cells to develop and grow. Systemic therapies include:

Clinical trials represent research protocols that include the use of new drugs or drug combinations in a specific clinical situation.

Chemoradiotherapy combines the use of chemotherapy and radiation at the same time. When given together, the two treatments are more effective than when given in sequence. This approach is often used when a cancer is advanced but has not spread to distant parts of the body and therefore may respond to more intense therapy.

Chemotherapy is the systemic use of cytotoxic chemicals to kill cancer cells. Today there are many medications (e.g., biological medications, immune treatments, targeted therapies) that do not fit the classic definition of chemotherapy yet are often included in this category.

Immunotherapy uses drugs to allow the body’s own immune system to more effectively find and destroy cancer cells.

Molecularly targeted therapy is the use of drugs that are molecularly targeted at a genetic mutation that has allowed the cancer to grow. This therapy enables personalized treatments for patients who carry certain genetic mutations or abnormalities.

Surgical therapies involve an operation or procedure to remove cancer from the body. Surgery may be the main treatment for some invasive cancers, but it’s only one part of the entire treatment plan. Surgical therapies include:

Abdominoperineal resection is surgical removal of the anus, rectum and part of the colon through an incision in the abdomen.

Coloanal anastomosis using total mesorectal excision is surgery to attach the colon to the anus.

Low anterior resection is surgery for rectal cancer that involves removing part of the rectum.

Transanal endoscopic microsurgery is surgery performed through the anus and rectum to remove polyps and early-stage cancers.

Transanal excision is a surgical treatment for colorectal cancer that allows a surgeon to remove tumors and some surrounding tissue, leaving the anus and sphincter in place.

Transanal minimally invasive surgery is a video camera-assisted procedure to remove polyps and other growths from the rectum.

Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation from a source like X-rays or photons to kill cancer cells or shrink tumors. It may be part of a treatment plan that also includes systemic therapies and/or surgery. Radiation is sometimes used to help ease a patient’s pain or discomfort. Radiation therapies include:

Image-guided radiation therapy delivers high-dose radiation, guided by imaging, directly to the tumors.

Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and volumetric-modulated arc therapy (VMAT) are advanced types of radiation therapies. IMRT uses advanced technology to manipulate the radiation beams to conform to the shape of a tumor. VMAT is a subtype of IMRT in which the machine actively delivers radiation beams while moving in an arc around the patient.

This method of radiation delivery offers next-generation capabilities. The arc-based therapy provided via VMAT delivers high doses of radiation to more focused areas, reducing side effects and the overall treatment time for the patient. This treatment is particularly effective at treating several types of cancer while at the same time reducing toxicity and harm to vital organs.

This procedure is one of several new ways to deliver radiation therapy. It requires a sophisticated facility and equipment, along with highly specialized physicians. It is available at some Providence locations.

Radiopharmaceuticals (Y-90) is a group of treatments delivered by a catheter and consisting of millions of microscopic, radioactive microspheres that are infused into the arteries that feed the tumor. Y-90 microspheres are delivered into the arteries and can be used to treat cancer that has spread, or metastasized, to the liver. These particles become embedded into the cancer cells and deliver the radiation directly to the cancer site. Two commonly used agents are Theraspheres and Sir Spheres.

The advantage of this treatment is that the radiation penetrates only a short distance, so the risk to the organ is very low while the dose the cancer experiences is very high.

This procedure is one of several new ways to deliver radiation therapy directly into the tumor site. It requires a sophisticated facility and equipment, along with highly specialized physicians. It is available at some Providence locations.

Stereotactic radiation (SABR/SBRT) is a group of treatments that includes stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) and stereotactic ablative radiation (SABR) – both of which are adaptations of stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) – for the treatment of targets in the body, but outside the brain. Similar to SRS, these techniques deliver very high doses of radiation using sophisticated motion management and patient immobilization techniques.

The number of radiation treatments is minimal and may range from one to five treatments delivered over one to two weeks.

This procedure is one of several new ways to deliver radiation therapy. It requires a sophisticated facility and equipment, along with highly specialized physicians. It is available at some Providence locations.

Surface-guided radiation therapy (SGRT/SIGRT) is an approach to radiation targeting that offers real-time beam guidance from face and body surface-recognition systems.

This treatment is particularly effective at treating several types of cancer while at the same time reducing toxicity and harm to vital organs, thus minimizing side effects.

This advanced procedure requires a sophisticated facility and equipment, along with highly specialized physicians. It is available at some Providence locations.

Three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3DCRT) is a radiation planning and treatment technique in which three-dimensional (3D) imaging enables improved targeting for radiation treatment. 3D planning with CT imaging makes radiation treatment much more conformal, or tailored to the target.

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Accreditations

We are proud to see our dedication to our cancer patients recognized by some of the most well-respected programs and institutions in the United States. Several of our Providence locations have achieved the following accreditations:

Meet the Team

At Providence, you'll have access to a vast network of dedicated and compassionate providers who offer personalized care by focusing on treatment, prevention and health education.

Find Clinical Trials

Are you looking for a clinical trial for yourself or for a patient? We’d love to help you find one!

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Expert Tips and Advice for Cancer

2/26/2024
Two early phase trials available at Providence Cancer Institute to evaluate escalating doses of different potential cancer treatments in patients with advanced solid tumors.
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The Food and Drug Administration has approved an adoptive cell therapy for adult patients with melanoma that has spread to other parts of the body (metastatic).
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Supporting thousands of patients experiencing food insecurity, a converted space at Providence Gateway Internal Medicine clinic is filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, milk, eggs and more.
2/19/2024
​​​​​​​Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center has opened a Multi-Cancer Early Detection Clinic, the first of its kind in the San Fernando Valley.