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Many patients with rectal cancer are treated with a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Which treatment you receive, when, and for how long depends on many factors, which your physician team will discuss with you in detail during your first visit to the Rectal Cancer Program. At that time you will have plenty of time to ask questions.
The Rectal Cancer Program is a leader in the development and performance of innovative, sphincter-sparing minimally invasive surgery for the treatment of rectal cancer.
In sphincter-sparing surgery, our surgeons remove the diseased section of the rectum but leave the anal sphincter (the circular muscle that controls bowel movements) intact. This surgery preserves normal bowel function.
Because our surgeons have extensive experience using sophisticated robotics and advanced surgical techniques, patients treated at the Rectal Cancer Program have a significantly lower rate of permanent stomas than patients treated at many other leading academic cancer clinics.
Most people treated for rectal cancer - particularly those treated at our Rectal Cancer Program - do not require a permanent colostomy. However, some patients may need one for a period of time following surgery and a few may need one permanently.
We understand that having an ostomy for any length of time creates anxiety and that you will have many questions and concerns.
At the Rectal Cancer Program, our goal is to reverse temporary ostomies as soon as possible, rather than waiting for months of chemotherapy to be completed, which is standard practice in many other medical centers. This improves our patients' quality of life.
Whether you have a temporary or permanent ostomy, our highly experienced, certified wound/ostomy nurses spend ample time with you and your family members, to explain what you need to know about living a full and active life with an ostomy.
They will explain in easy-to-understand terms about stoma care, your appliances, and how having an ostomy will impact your day-to-day life.
Our nurses will meet with you before surgery and while you are in the hospital, and will also provide you with helpful printed and online instructional materials to take home with you to help you manage your ostomy. Equally important, our nurses are available to provide you with advice or help after you leave the hospital.
Ostomy Support Group
We also offer an ongoing, monthly Ostomy Support Group facilitated by a certified wound/ostomy nurse. This popular group gives patients with permanent or temporary ostomies the opportunity to share experiences, gain support, and learn from others in a relaxed, friendly setting. Many of our current and former patients - women and men of all ages and walks of life - find these groups very valuable.