Surgery for Rectal cancer
How is rectal cancer surgery done?
Rectal surgery is done when a tumour is present in the rectum. Dr. Noorbhai will work in conjunction with the rest of your oncology team. Depending on how far the cancer has spread you may have surgery in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiation. Depending on the stage of cancer, you may have one of the following surgeries:
- Abdominoperineal resection (APR) - this surgery may help when tumours are located near the anal sphincter. In this case, the tumour and the sphincter will need to be removed and thus a colostomy will need to be done as well. This involves an opening (a stoma) being made outside the abdomen and a bag is attached. This is done so that waste can be passed into the attached bag.
- A sphincter-sparing surgery - otherwise known as a coloanal anastomosis surgery may be done for small tumours in the rectum. The two ends of the colon are then reconnected or the end of the colon may be connected directly to the anus.
- A low anterior resection - this surgery leaves the anus intact while the tumour is removed from the upper section of the rectum. The end of the colon is then reattached to the rectum.
- Local excision - this surgery is done for early stages of rectal cancer to remove the tumour and surrounding rectal tissue as well as nearby lymph nodes.
Why would this surgery be done?
Rectal surgery is done to remove a cancerous tumour from the rectum. The type of surgery will depend on the stage of cancer you have been diagnosed with and the location of the tumour. If you have been diagnosed with cancer, chemotherapy and radiation may be advised in combination with surgery and therefore a plan should be discussed with your oncologist and Dr. Noorbhai.
How long will I be in hospital?
Most patients are able to go home after 14 days of observation in the hospital. How soon you will be discharged from hospital depends on whether you are able to drink liquids when waking up, how much pain you have and whether you have someone to look after you at home. If you have had a colostomy and stoma implanted, you may require longer time in observation.
What will happen after rectal cancer surgery?
For a few days after surgery, you will not be able to eat anything and will remain on a liquid diet until your rectum has healed. You may experience pain after surgery, however Dr. Noorbhai will try make you as comfortable as possible. You will be monitored in hospital for the next two weeks.
How soon after the surgery can I resume normal activities?
You will be able to resume normal after surgery within the next 6 weeks.
What are the potential risks and complications of rectal cancer surgery?
The risk of complications during open surgery include:
- Infection of the wound or internal infection.
- Sexual dysfunction and fertility issues for men.
- Gastrointestinal leak may cause infection and further surgery may be required.
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or blood clots.
- Risks from general anaesthetic.
- Colostomy or ileostomy may be needed which requires drastic lifestyle changes and impact self-esteem.