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Rectal Cancer: Stage III: 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 III colon cancer includes each of the following:

  • Surgery for Stage III rectal cancer (also known as resection). To learn about this surgery, click here.
  • Chemotherapy which is generally a combination of drugs known together as FOLFOX or a combination of other drugs known together as CapeOx. 
    • For information about FOLFOX, click here. 
    • For information about CapeOx, click here
    • For information about practical aspects of chemotherapy in general, click here.

Complementary Treatments: Complementary therapies can help reduce symptoms or side effects and generally make you feel better Complementary treatments include acupuncture, massage, meditation and relaxation techniques as well as other treatments. The key word here is “complementary” because these treatments should not be used as an alternative to the above mentioned treatments. There is no scientific proof that any of these treatments cure rectal cancer. In fact, they can even make matters worse.

Be sure to telll your doctor about any complementary therapies you use and/or are considering. Some may affect standard treatment or cause serious side effects.(For more information, click here.)

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.


  • If you have to choose between treatments, consider getting a second opinion from an NCI designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. offsite link  (For pracical tips about second opinions, click here.)  Second opinions are usually covered by health insurance - and are not expensive if not covered. Alternatively, if you are looking for criteria to help make a decision, see:
  • If existing treatments are not adequate, cutting edge drugs are available through clinical trials (controlled studies involving patients). There may also be treatments in use in other countries that may be of interest. For additional information, see the document in “To Learn More.”

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