While cancer continues to claim many lives, research on treatment options is constantly improving and expanding. One area of recent development is in the treatment of rectal cancer.
A recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that treatment involving immune checkpoint inhibitorsTrusted Source may be extremely effective among people with a specific type of rectal cancer.
It may be effective enough that other forms of follow-up treatment like surgery are unneeded in people with this type of cancer.
Cancers of the colon and rectum, collectively called colorectal cancer, impact thousands of individuals each year. The National Cancer InstituteTrusted Source estimates that, in 2022, there will be 151,030 new cases of colorectal cancer and 52,580 deaths from colorectal cancer in the U.S.
The sobering statistics indicate that colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States.
When it comes to the treatment of rectal cancer, the American Cancer SocietyTrusted Source notes that the approach mainly depends on the stage of the tumor. Surgical removal is the primary approach when rectal cancer has not spread to other areas, with possible additional radiation and chemotherapy.
Chief Scientific Officer of the American Cancer Society, Dr. William DahutTrusted Source, explained it this way to MNT:
“Rectal cancer, traditionally, has been treated with a combination of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery. So, it’s [a] very intensive treatment. The chemotherapy is toxic, not easy to take, and the side effects of radiation and surgery are not trivial. […] There are patients who can be [successfully treated]. […] It is not an easy road, and oftentimes, there are long-term side effects from the therapy alone.”