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Surgery for Rectal Cancer: Stages II, III, IV


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Surgical removal of a colorectal tumor is the basic therapy for treating most types of rectal cancer. This colorectal surgery is known as a colectomy. 

There are basically two types of colectomy used with respect to rectal cancer: Low Anterior Resection (LAR) and Abdominoperineal Resection (APR). Each of the different procedures removes the cancer from the colon and from nearby organs if the cancer has spread. One spares the sphincter and one doesn't. 

The key is to understand what will be removed, why it will be removed, and what to expect. For a list of questions to ask, click here.

The other sections of this document provide information starting with preparation for surgery and continuing through recovery. One section compares Open Surgery to Laparoscopic Surgery . 

To find a colorectal surgical specialist in your area, visit the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeon’s web site  offsite linkor call in Illinois: 847.290.9184.


  • Radiation treatment is sometimes prescribed for a period of time before surgery to reduce tumor size.
  • For information about hospitals, including how to choose, what to take with you, how to maximize your stay, how to avoid infection, and what to do before discharge, click here.
  • If you are treated in a hospital other than your local hospital,  get a copy of your medical records for the local hospital where you will do the follow up. You are legally entitled to a copy. There may be a charge. For additional information, click here.

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