Surgical treatment of distal rectal cancers represents a unique technical challenge because of these tumors' intricate relationship to the anal sphincter muscles. In order to safely remove these lesions, surgeons often remove both the rectum and the anus. If the anus is removed, the patient typically needs a permanent colostomy. The colostomy then provides an alternative way to excrete stool, which is collected in a bag that is attached to the abdominal wall.
For some low rectal cancers, UMass Memorial Medical Center colon and rectal surgeons now perform a more advanced type of surgery that eliminates the need for a permanent colostomy. Called sphincter-sparing surgery, this procedure allows for safe removal of the tumor and "spares" the anal sphincter muscle. This allows you to retain control over your bowel movements.
Key advantages of sphincter-sparing surgery
Before this type of surgery, you will usually receive both radiation and chemotherapy. This preoperative combination can help to:
How this type of surgery works
- Reduce the risk the disease will recur
- Eliminate the need to remove the sphincter muscles and anus, which allows you to eventually return to passing bowel movements through your anus
The surgeon removes tumors outside the layer of tissue surrounding the rectum, working in a plane that preserves the sphincter muscle but completely removes the cancer. This lowers the risk that cancer cells will be left behind in the pelvis.
This advanced surgical technique can enhance your quality of life and provides cancer cure rates equivalent to more extreme surgery.
This is just one of the many medical advances that you can conveniently access at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, MA.
Other medical advances: