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Rectal Cancer: Stage II: Treatments

Standard Treatments

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Colorectal cancer is cancer  offsite linkthat generally occurs in the colon or rectum. (For a general overview, click here).

Standard treatment for Stage II rectal cancer includes each of the following:

  • Surgery (also known as resection), either prior to or after chemotherapy/radiation (see below).  To learn about surgery for rectal cancer, click here.  
  • Chemotherapy which is generally a combination of drugs known as FOLFOX or a combination of other drugs known as CapeOx. Click on the following to learn about:
  • External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT) to the tumor to reduce the size of the rectal tumor is generally given prior to surgery. To learn about EBRT, click here. For considerations to think about before undergoing EBRT, see the other section of this document

When chemotherapy and radiation are given at the same time, it is known as “ChemoRadiation”.

Complementary/Integrative Treatments: Complementary or integrative therapies be of great use during treatment. These therapies include acupuncture, massage, meditation and relaxation techniques as well as other treatments.  

  • Complementary/integrative treatments can help reduce symptoms or side effects, reduce stress and feelings of sadness, improve your mental outlook, improve your quality of life and help to relax you.
  • These treatments are not meant to take the place of traditional treatment but instead are meant in this context to complement and integrate with traditional treatment. There is no scientific proof that any complementary treatment will cure colorectal cancer. It is possible they could negatively affect traditional treatment or cause serious side effects. It is important to tell your doctor about any complementary therapies you use and/or are considering. (For more information, click here.)

If existing therapies are not adequate discuss with your physicians the availability of a clinical trial for your cancer.  Clinical trials are studies performed with humans to test new drugs or combinations of drugs, new approaches to surgery or radiotherapy or procedures to improve the diagnosis of disease and the quality of life of the patient. A clinical trial may offer you the opportunity to receive a treatment that is not yet available for the general public. (For a clinical trials matching service, click here offsite link). 

Unless treatment starts immediately after a decision is made, learn about steps to take between making the decision and the actual start of treatment by clicking here.

NOTE: If you have to choose between treatments, consider getting a second opinion from an NCI designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. offsite link  (For practical tips about second opinions, click here.)  Second opinions are usually covered by health insurance. They are not expensive if not covered.  Alternatively, if you are looking for things to think about to help make a decision, see:

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