Surgery for rectal cancer

This section is about surgery for cancer that starts in the back passage (rectal cancer). The type of surgery you have depends on the position and the size of the cancer in the rectum.  

Types of surgery for rectal cancer

The type of surgery you have for cancer of the back passage (rectum) depends on the position and the size of your cancer.  

Having a colostomy

A colostomy is an operation to create an opening (stoma) of the large bowel (colon) onto the surface of the tummy (abdomen).

Preparing for surgery

Before your operation for rectal cancer you will have some tests to check you are fit for surgery. You sign a consent form and meet members of the medical team who will be looking after you. 

After surgery for rectal cancer

After a big operation, you might wake up in the intensive care unit (ICU) or high dependency unit (HDU). You are likely to have a drip into your arm to give you fluids until you are eating and drinking again.

Problems after surgery

There is a risk of problems or complications after any operation including infection, blood clots, bleeding or an anastomotic leak. You might have problems with your sex life after surgery. Support is available. 

Surgery for advanced cancer

You might have surgery if advanced bowel cancer blocks your bowel and causes symptoms.  Sometimes you can have surgery to remove cancer that has spread to your liver or lungs. 

Last reviewed: 
10 Feb 2022
Next review due: 
10 Feb 2025
Json LD: 
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