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Is rectal colon cancer worse?

Posts: 10
Joined: Nov 2006

Thank you for all your replies regarding my husbands pain after his illiostemy reversal, it is so good to have the support from you. He went to his G.P. today - his surgeon is away and he said basically everything that you have all said. He does have fissures and he prescribed a cream. One starts reading things on the internet and then it gets ones mind going to a place that may not be positive. Which brings me to another question. I remember when my husband was first diagnosed reading something on the internet that rectal colon cancer is worse than cancer in the colon. It was something that I wasn't prepared to deal with at the time, but it has been at the back of my mind since Aug. 06. In the beginning I did a lot of research on the internet about this disease but refuse to go there now. This is the only site I will look at. Can anyone answer this question?

Thanks again


PGLGreg's picture
Posts: 741
Joined: Jul 2006

Yes, in the sense that without radiation treatment, the odds of a recurrence are higher for stage 2-4. However, if it has been treated with radiation, I don't whether it is worse

Posts: 372
Joined: Aug 2006

Well from a treatment stand point rectal cancer usually provides a point of attack for radiation. Generally you need to avoid radiating the small intestine it doesn't like that. The rectal area is lower and offers a better target then most of the asending, transverse and descending colon. Also your stage is important. If the tumor has progressed through the wall into other organs I would suggest those closest to the rectal area are well expendable to a certain extent in that you can live without them or parts of them. What good radiation does there is also a down side. Like the joke your uncle sends you through college but molests you. It can be like that. Its application should significantly reduce the tumor and help prevent a reoccurrence in that area. But radiation affects the area around the tumor including the pelvis where plateletts and blood cells are produced. Radiation can cause cancer as well as kill it. There can also be impotence if not from rads then from the surgery because the nerve for well... an erection is close by so-to-speak. Then when the rectal area is removed the "storage area" and great "water remover" from feces is affected or gone. GPS for restrooms helps :). The other parts of the colon in layman terms digests, removes water, and pushes the "food" along until it gets where it needs to be the exit. As any area of the colon is reduced the trip is shorter and well can be more fluid at times on its way out. In truth your surgeon needs to be a good plumber in a sense to hook up the pipes rights. Parts of the colon non-rectal area are closer to more necessary organs that don't do well being removed or having procedures done to them. Colon areas don't easily present themselves for radiation do to the location of the small intestine etc. So pragmatically speaking which is worst reminds me of the old commerical "Less Filling" "Taste Great" side of the beer argument. Of course these are rhetorical questions because it comes down to perspective or in other words they're both right-rectal or colon cancer is worst. Obviously I've had a little fun here. If the question you asked is what location rectal/colon cancer is worst for the victims enjoyment of life, then I submit it depends. Since it is a question loaded with variables and what if's. But if the question is the one that scares us all and we all tap dance around it "who dies more often those with rectal or colon cancer?" Then the anwers is clear and this is according to my analyst of case studies then yes IT DEPENDS [emphasis added]. vinny1 I'm not trying to devalue your question. The real truth is when they build statistical models that lump common factors of real people to reach a conclusion with reasonable certainty then I would suggest it is more valid to flip a coin. My point if I may use a scienific therem about cancer .........don't go looking for someting you don't want to find. In short it simply doesn't matter. Your husband is going to beat this end of story and don't let anything tell you different. Wishing you and your husband the best.

KathiM's picture
Posts: 8077
Joined: Aug 2005

WOW! What a great discussion!!!

I'm one of 'those' that had (NOTE the tense...lol) rectal cancer. Lost it, plus the sig colon to the beast...BUT got a brand-new internal rectum out of my descending colon...

2 years out, I'm doing fine....LOVE the reference to GPS for bathrooms, tho...my 'slight lifestyle change' (as my surgeon put it..)includes not eating heavy if I'm going to a scene where clean bathrooms may be questionable...but, to this day, my 'new' rectum is serving me quite well....

I agree, beating whatever it is, is the point...BTW...was your use of DEPENDS a product commercial...lol...I digress...

Hugs, kathi

Posts: 372
Joined: Aug 2006

KathiM an analytical mind and Happy Naked dancing. I'm impressed.

Moesimo's picture
Posts: 1080
Joined: Aug 2003

I don't know what is worse, alot depends on the stage. I was stage 3 and it has been 4 years for me. Why do some cancers come back and others remain NED.

I NED and for that I am so thankful, but I was left with some damage from the raditation. My small intestine was radiated and I had to have 2 sections removed. I have had many small bowel obstructions, none recently, thank God. But after my ileostomy reversal I was left with such bowel dysfunction that it was affecting my quality of life. I needed more than a GPS to the bathroom. I was tempted to move into the bathroom. I took so many baths that I was spending hours in the bathroom, along with working full time. I made the hardest decision in my life and had a colostomy done. I got my life back and don't regret my decision. I wish I was one of those people that had a successful reversal, but I didn't. And I had a great surgeon, I don't blame him.

I wish they would find a cure for this terrible disease.


kathleenss's picture
Posts: 49
Joined: Nov 2006

There is some really good info here.

My surgeon told me that rectal cancer recurs in the same site more often than colon cancer. He was uneasy about trying to save "normal" function and possibly leaving cells to grow back. Therefore, I have a colostomy, and it's just fine. After the first month or two getting used to it, I have been minimally affected.

There is a really good book by a survivor of rectal cancer - If the battle (war?) is over, why am I still in uniform.

One of the hardest things about having (had) rectal cancer is saying it. It sounds uncouth. I usually wimp out and just say colorectal cancer. There's just something about the word rectum.....


vinny3's picture
Posts: 933
Joined: Jun 2006

If you look at the survival rates for rectal cancer vs the rest of the colon they are less for rectal cancer than for the comparable cancer stage for the rest of the colon. However, as we know the statistics are older and we need to look at each person individually. I had rectal cancer and have run the gamut of radiation, chemo and having a permanent colostomy. I find that I have less need to know where the bathroom is as I no longer have that rectal urgency I had occasionally in the past, especially after eating. In addition, my surgeon was very good and everything else works the way it is supposed to. I sometimes use the term colorectal cancer instead of rectal cancer and don't bother telling people I have a colostomy. My friends and family know and who cares about the rest.


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