Mayo Clinic's approach to rectal cancer care

Your Mayo Clinic care team

Why choose Mayo Clinic for colorectal cancer

Amit Merchea, M.D., Colon and Rectal Surgery: There's a number of exciting things in the future for colorectal cancer care and research occurring at Mayo Clinic. These encompass new chemotherapeutics or immune therapies from surgical approaches. We're continuing to push the limits with robotic surgery and digital surgery using augmented reality and artificial intelligence. And this really helps enhance the care that we can deliver for patients with colorectal cancer.

David W. Larson, M.D., M.B.A., Colon and Rectal Surgery: Quality of life issues are a big issue for most patients. It is one of their number one questions. And we spend a lot of time educating the patient and trying to determine what their goals of quality of life are.

Shabana F. Pasha, M.D., Gastroenterology & Hepatology: So I think as Mayo Clinic physicians we are always available to answer questions, including making the decision whether or not a patient would benefit from a referral to Mayo Clinic. We usually request records for patients ahead of time. We preschedule tests and appointments, so if a patient needs a procedure, if they need to meet with the surgeon, again, if they need to meet with a genetic specialist, so all those tests are prescheduled wherein a patient can come in. If they are from out-of-state, they can fly in for a gastroenterology appointment, get all the necessary tests done and then return home.

Tanios Bekaii-Saab, M.D., F.A.C.P., Medical Oncology: I think that having a center that's focused on research, but research that's applied to patient care. And that's what Mayo does best, is a certainly a plus, a positive that ensures that patients have access to the most innovative and the latest and the greatest that can't be found anywhere on the planet.

Amit Merchea, M.D.: So I think patients to seek care at Mayo Clinic with colorectal cancer because we really offer the expertise in treating this. We are a high volume Cancer Center. Our outcomes with colorectal cancer set benchmarks across the country. And patients have high-quality, safe and effective care. I think for any patient who's seeking surgical treatment for colorectal cancer, it's important that they look at not just the surgeon as an individual but the team.

Tanios Bekaii-Saab, M.D.: And because of our integrated care, so a patient comes through the door for screening, if we find a polyp, or we find a cancer, that patient is meeting with the gastroenterologist and in no time with a surgeon, or the geneticists, with the medical oncologists if needed, and then anyone as part of the team. And that is quite unique. And that is why I think the care overall, the integrated level of care, at Mayo Clinic is certainly superior care.

At Mayo Clinic, specialists in medical oncology, colon and rectal surgery, and radiation oncology collaborate to create a comprehensive care plan that considers you as a whole person. These experts work closely with other specialists, including pharmacists, nurses, educators and dietitians, to deliver high-quality care in a supportive environment.

Your doctors will discuss all of your treatment options and guide you in choosing the approach that best suits your needs and goals. Your care team is prepared with the knowledge and resources to provide you with exactly the care you need.

Advanced diagnosis and treatment

Innovative Rectal Cancer Treatments

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The colon and rectal surgeons at Mayo Clinic draw on decades of cumulative experience in a high-volume practice. For decades, Mayo Clinic has been a global leader in the multidisciplinary treatment of advanced rectal cancer.

Mayo Clinic colorectal surgeons specialize in removal (resection) of complex tumors affecting multiple organs and structures in the abdomen and pelvis. The colorectal surgery practice at Mayo Clinic has particular expertise in procedures that help avoid the need for a colostomy and that preserve the nearby nerves that are essential for normal bowel, bladder and sexual function.

A full range of technologically advanced rectal cancer treatments is available at Mayo Clinic. Examples include:

  • Intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT). Mayo Clinic radiation oncologists introduced and refined IORT over the last few decades. A radiation oncologist administers IORT during rectal cancer surgery, after the surgical team has resected the primary tumor. The treatment consists of a single, high dose of radiation focused directly on the original tumor site before the abdomen is closed. The tight focus of the radiation beam, along with careful placement of radiation shields, protects nearby organs from radiation damage.

    The main role of the treatment is to reduce the chance of cancer recurrence when the surgeon is unable to remove the optimal amount of healthy tissue around the tumor. IORT is used to treat advanced rectal cancer, as well as some cases of recurrent rectal cancer.

  • Minimally invasive surgery. During minimally invasive (laparoscopic) rectal cancer surgery, several small incisions are made in your abdomen, rather than one large incision. Special tools and a camera are inserted through the small incisions to access and remove the cancer.

    Colorectal surgeons at Mayo Clinic were among the earliest adopters of minimally invasive surgery procedures for cancers of the rectum and colon.

  • Robotic surgery. During robotic surgery, the surgeon sits at a console and uses controls to guide high-tech surgical tools. Robotic surgery allows the surgeon to work more efficiently in small spaces and gives the surgeon an enhanced view of the area where the operation is taking place.

    Mayo Clinic surgeons are highly skilled and experienced in performing robotic surgery. At Mayo Clinic, the use of robotics has produced excellent outcomes for people with colorectal cancer.

  • Multivisceral resection and intraoperative radiation therapy. At Mayo Clinic, multiple surgeons and radiation oncologists can work as an operating-room team with the combined capability to remove multiple tumors of different types at once. By combining complex surgery and intraoperative radiation therapy, a cure is sometimes possible for even the most aggressive cancers.
  • Proton beam therapy. One of the newest radiation therapies available, proton beam therapy uses a highly targeted precision beam to treat cancers located close to critical organs and body structures. Mayo Clinic's Proton Beam Therapy Program features intensity-modulated proton beam therapy with pencil beam scanning, which allows radiation oncologists to destroy cancer while sparing healthy tissue.

Expertise and rankings

Mayo Clinic doctors are widely respected for their expertise and experience in caring for people with rectal cancer. When you seek care at Mayo Clinic, you can expect:

  • Personalized care. Experts in medical oncology work closely with specialists in colon and rectal surgery and radiation oncology to be sure all of your needs are considered when creating your customized treatment plan. Other experts are included as needed.
  • Experience you can trust. Each year, Mayo Clinic doctors care for more than 2,700 people with cancers of the anus, anal canal and rectum.
  • Nationally recognized expertise. Mayo Clinic Cancer Center meets the strict standards for a National Cancer Institute comprehensive cancer center, which recognize scientific excellence and a multispecialty approach focused on cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., Mayo Clinic in Phoenix/Scottsdale, Ariz., and Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., are ranked among the Best Hospitals for cancer by U.S. News & World Report.

Locations, travel and lodging

Mayo Clinic has major campuses in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona; Jacksonville, Florida; and Rochester, Minnesota. The Mayo Clinic Health System has dozens of locations in several states.

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Costs and insurance

Mayo Clinic works with hundreds of insurance companies and is an in-network provider for millions of people.

In most cases, Mayo Clinic doesn't require a physician referral. Some insurers require referrals, or may have additional requirements for certain medical care. All appointments are prioritized on the basis of medical need.

Learn more about appointments at Mayo Clinic.

Please contact your insurance company to verify medical coverage and to obtain any needed authorization prior to your visit. Often, your insurer's customer service number is printed on the back of your insurance card.

More information about billing and insurance:

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June 11, 2021