You will face many difficult questions if you or someone you love has been diagnosed with cancer.
Where should you go for care? What are your treatment options? How can you continue to live your life as normally as possible?
We want to help you find answers. This is a good place to begin learning more about colon cancer, rectal cancer, appendix cancer, anal cancer, and gastrointestinal neuroendocrine tumors. From here, you can visit other sections of our cancer guides for more in-depth information.
The goal of our team of experts is to give every person who comes to Memorial Sloan Kettering the best possible care for them. We’re here to help you, every step of the way.
The Colorectal Service at MSK focuses on treating cancers of the lower gastrointestinal tract, from the most common to the rarest types. These cancers include:
Anal cancer occurs at the anus, where the intestines connect to the outside of the body. The vast majority of anal cancer is squamous cell carcinoma, which starts in the squamous cells that line the inside of the anus. Anal cancer is rare. About 8,500 people in the United States are newly diagnosed each year. Most anal cancer is caused by human papillomavirus infection. Anal cancer is primarily treated with a combination of chemotherapy and radiation.
Appendix cancer, also known as appendiceal cancer, affects the small organ that is found near the area where the large and small intestines meet, close to the right hip bone. This rare cancer affects fewer than 2,000 people in the United States each year. It is difficult to detect before it has spread. Appendix cancer is often treated with surgery, along with chemotherapy if the cancer has spread outside the appendix.
Colon cancer forms inside the large intestine, which is about five and a half feet long. The first five feet of the large intestine is called the colon. The rectum makes up the last six inches. Cancers found in the two organs are often grouped together as colorectal cancer. Colon cancer typically starts as a small abnormal growth on the inner lining of the colon. This is called a polyp, and it can grow into cancer. Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States. More than 97,000 people in the United States are newly diagnosed with colon cancer each year. Colon cancer is usually treated with surgery, often in combination with chemotherapy.
Gastrointestinal Neuroendocrine Tumors
Gastrointestinal neuroendocrine tumors involve a specialized cell found in organs throughout the body. In the gastrointestinal tract, neuroendocrine cells help control the release of digestive juices, among other functions. Although this cancer is rare, our neuroendocrine experts care for hundreds of people with these tumors every year. Surgery is the primary treatment for many neuroendocrine tumors. MSK specialists use a wide variety of other treatments as well. These include the latest therapy involving proteins that deliver a radioactive dose that kills tumor cells.
Rectal cancer involves the last six inches of the large intestine, called the rectum. The rectum is where the body stores stool until a bowel movement. Like colon cancer, rectal cancer usually develops slowly, when a polyp on the inner lining of the rectum grows into cancer. More than 47,000 people in the United States are newly diagnosed with rectal cancer each year. Like with colon cancer, surgery is a common treatment for rectal cancer. However, the rectum can be a more challenging location for surgery because it is surrounded by the bones of the pelvis, and the area around the rectum is more crowded.
Why should I choose Memorial Sloan Kettering for treatment?
If you are facing cancer, we understand how much you want to regain a sense of control over your life. Deciding where to be treated is a crucial step.
MSK is recognized around the world as a leader in treating colorectal cancer and developing new treatments. We tailor your treatment specifically to you. Each year we care for more than 1,200 people with colorectal cancer. We cure or control the disease for people facing every form of colorectal cancer, including the rarest, most complex types.
Many of the most advanced treatments available today were developed or first studied by our colorectal cancer team. Our experts come from many different specialties, and we are all working together for you. The people we care for have access to clinical trials of new therapies that may not be available at other hospitals.
We believe you should choose MSK because we offer:
- Compassionate care from a team of experts. Our staff includes more than 70 colorectal cancer specialists from diverse fields, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiology, and pathology. Many of them are nationally or internationally recognized.
- The most-advanced colorectal cancer treatments, including minimally invasive surgeries, which use smaller incisions than traditional surgeries. MSK’s surgeons are particularly skilled at methods that use a robotic system to provide greater precision and enhanced visibility. MSK doctors perform more of these kinds of surgeries than doctors at any other institution in the country. This gives us a high level of expertise that reduces recovery time and leads to fewer complications. We are also leaders in treating colorectal cancer with no surgery when possible.
- A commitment to your quality of life. Our specialists take measures to preserve your ability to use the bathroom normally as well as your sexual health. We can help you not just survive but thrive.
- Expertise in diagnosing and treating hereditary, rare, or complex colorectal cancer. As the world’s largest nonprofit cancer center, we have extensive experience in curing or controlling all forms of the disease.
- Personalized treatment. We use state-of-the-art genetic testing and other methods to predict which treatments are most likely to be effective for our patients.
- The first clinic in the world for people under 50 with colorectal cancer. The Center for Young Onset Colorectal Cancer was created to address a troubling rise in colon cancer among people as young as their 20s and 30s. We help younger patients with the specific challenges they face while advancing research into the causes of this disturbing trend.
- Personalized screening and monitoring after treatment, to keep you healthy. This includes the Hereditary Colorectal Cancer Family Registry for families who are affected by genetic colon cancer syndromes and may be at an elevated risk.
- A dedication to giving you the best outcome possible and ensuring you are happy with your care. We track patient satisfaction and use your feedback to continually improve.
- Flexibility in how and where to receive treatment. Our specialists are conveniently located in Manhattan and at our regional outpatient locations in New Jersey, on Long Island, and in Westchester County. This provides our patients with the same outstanding care from MSK doctors closer to home.