What Is Rectal Cancer?
Rectal cancer forms in the last part of the large intestine (rectum) just before it connects to the anus. Many cases start as polyps — noncancerous growths that may turn into cancer if they aren’t removed, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).
This cancer is sometimes grouped with colon cancer, which develops in the longest part of the large intestine and is referred to as colorectal cancer. However, the two cancers may require unique approaches to treatment.
Can Rectal Cancer Be Caused By Asbestos?
Yes. Asbestos can increase the risk of rectal cancer and affect the severity of the cancer.
After breathing in or swallowing asbestos fibers, these fibers remain in the body for decades, causing damage and inflammation wherever they settle. The fibers may get trapped in the rectum and cause cancer 10-50 years after exposure.
In addition to rectal cancer, the carcinogen asbestos has been linked to several cancers, including mesothelioma, lung cancer, and chronic lung diseases like asbestosis and more.
If you or a loved one developed rectal cancer after being exposed to asbestos, help is available. Learn how Lung Cancer Group can connect you with financial assistance by starting a free case review today.
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Risk Factors for Asbestos Rectal Cancer
According to several studies, the more asbestos people are exposed to, the higher their risk of developing either asbestos colon cancer or asbestos rectal cancer. This means insulation workers, asbestos cement layers, and others who experienced occupational asbestos exposure every day are at risk of asbestos rectal cancer.
In addition to exposure to asbestos, there are several other factors that can lead to higher risk of asbestos rectal cancer.
These risk factors include:
- Age: Rectal cancer is more common in patients who are 50 years or older.
- Chronic conditions: Conditions like Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and other bowel diseases can increase the risk of cancerous growths.
- Family history: Those who have a family history of gastrointestinal cancers or other chronic bowel conditions may have a higher chance of developing asbestos rectal cancer.
- Lifestyle choices: Not exercising regularly, smoking, drinking, and not eating enough fruits and vegetables can increase the risk of rectal cancer.
People who have any of these risk factors and a history of asbestos exposure should talk with their doctor about routine cancer screening options and be mindful of any symptoms.
Symptoms for Asbestos Rectal Cancer
Symptoms of rectal cancer may go unnoticed until the cancer is more advanced. Further, symptoms of asbestos rectal cancer may not appear until 10-50 years after exposure.
Some common symptoms of rectal cancer include:
- Abdominal pain
- Bloody or discolored stool
- Constipation, diarrhea, or other bowel changes
- Weakness or fatigue
- Weight loss
If you are experiencing these symptoms, talk with your doctor immediately to begin seeking a diagnosis.
Diagnosing Asbestos Rectal Cancer
There are several steps to confirm a rectal cancer diagnosis.
To diagnose rectal cancer, doctors will need to perform the following:
- A physical exam to discuss symptoms as well as your medical history (including if you were ever exposed to asbestos).
- Imaging and blood tests to detect any signs, or biomarkers, of possibly cancerous tissue. Imaging tests like CT scans and X-rays may be done to look at the digestive tract. Blood tests are also helpful to check for anemia, which can be a sign of rectal bleeding due to cancerous growths.
- Colonoscopy and biopsy to examine the rectum and take tissue samples that will be examined in the lab to determine if they are malignant (cancerous).
Types of Rectal Cancer
There are several types of rectal cancer based on how the cancer cells form and spread. Asbestos may increase the risk of any type of rectal cancer. Learn about each type below.
Adenocarcinoma is the most common type of rectal cancer. It affects the cells lining the inside of the rectum. As the cancer begins to grow, it spreads to other layers of the rectal tissue.
Rectal Carcinoid Tumors
Carcinoid tumors begin in the cells of the rectum that regulate hormones. This type of cancer in the rectum is rare.
Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors
Gastrointestinal stromal tumors are a type of soft tissue sarcoma (cancer that develops in softer areas like muscles and lymph nodes). They can develop anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract. While it is rare, these tumors can originate in the rectum before spreading.
Rectal lymphoma affects the white blood cells in the lymph nodes near the rectum. These cells lump together in the lymph nodes, causing swelling.
Contact Lung Cancer Group now to see how we can help you get financial assistance for treatment if you have rectal cancer and were exposed to asbestos.
Stages of Asbestos Rectal Cancer
Asbestos rectal cancer is staged using the Tumor-Node-Metastasis model.
The stages of asbestos rectal cancer are as follows:
- Stage 0: At this stage, abnormal cells are found in the inner lining (mucosa) of the rectum. These cells are not yet considered malignant.
- Stage 1: By stage 1, the cells in the mucosa have turned cancerous and spread to the first layers of muscle tissue of the rectum.
- Stage 2: In this stage, the cancer spreads through all layers of the rectum’s muscle tissue.
- Stage 3: By stage 3, cancer cells are spreading to the lymph nodes near the rectum.
- Stage 4: This is the most advanced stage of rectal cancer when cancer cells begin spreading to other parts of the body.
The stage at which a patient is diagnosed will affect prognosis (health outlook) and treatment options.
Asbestos Rectal Cancer Prognosis
The overall prognosis or expected health outcome for rectal cancer may be positive.
In one study published in the Journal of Gastrointestinal Onocology, the median life expectancy for more than 140 rectal cancer patients was over 4 and a half years.
Overall, the 5-year survival rate for colorectal cancer is about 65%, meaning that more than 6 out of 10 colorectal cancer patients live beyond 5 years. The 5-year survival rate is even higher for those diagnosed in early stages of colorectal cancer, jumping to about 90%.
Each patient will have a unique prognosis, depending on several factors, such as:
- Stage of cancer at diagnosis
- Overall health
Treatment Options for Asbestos Rectal Cancer
The best way to improve your prognosis and live longer after being diagnosed with asbestos rectal cancer is to receive treatment. Learn about some of the treatment options for rectal cancer.
Rectal Cancer Surgery
Doctors may be able to treat asbestos rectal cancer using different types of surgeries.
For example, doctors can remove polyps from the rectum if they’re found during a colonoscopy by using a surgery called a polympectomy. This is often the first and most commonly used surgery for early-stage rectal cancer.
In more advanced cases, patients may undergo a pelvic exenteration, which involves removing any affected organs such as the colon, bladder, ovaries, or prostate. After all cancerous tissue is removed, doctors will reconstruct any tissue they can or have a stoma opened and a colostomy bag attached to redirect waste.
Surgery for rectal cancer may be difficult since the area is small. Your doctors can determine if surgery will be the most effective treatment for your rectal cancer.
Chemotherapy involves using drugs that kill fast-growing rectal cancer cells. Chemotherapy is often used when the cancer reaches stage 2.
This treatment can help keep cancer cells from spreading too deep through the rectal muscle layer and shrink cancer tumors so they are easier to remove with surgery.
Regional chemotherapy may also be used, which is when chemotherapy drugs are applied directly to a specific site (most often during a surgical procedure).
Radiation therapy involves using beams of intense energy to kill asbestos rectal cancer cells. It usually uses X-rays or proton rays.
Radiation therapy may be delivered in small doses over five to six weeks of daily treatment, or in higher doses over five days. Talk to your rectal cancer team to learn more about the best radiation therapy plan for your case.
Also known as molecularly targeted therapy, targeted therapy uses drugs to target certain molecules (such as proteins) on or inside cancer cells. It is used to destroy cancer cells, slow the rate of cancer growth, and relieve cancer symptoms. For rectal cancer, targeted therapy is usually only used in advanced cases.
Immunotherapy uses substances to suppress or stimulate the immune system to help the body fight cancer cells. Immunotherapy is often only used in more advanced stages of rectal cancer.
Treatments may feel out of reach for some families due to overwhelming medical bills. But if your rectal cancer can be linked to a history of asbestos exposure, you may be eligible for financial assistance. Learn how Lung Cancer Group can help with a free case review today.
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Compensation Options for Asbestos Rectal Cancer Victims
This is because companies made and sold asbestos-containing products for decades and hid the fact that it could cause harm, putting millions of people at risk of asbestos rectal cancer and other diseases today.
Compensation options for asbestos exposure victims include:
- Asbestos trust funds contain a over $30 billion to compensate victims of asbestos exposure who have developed rectal cancer and other asbestos-related diseases. You may be able to file a claim if a company or companies have set up trust funds and you were exposed to their products.
- Asbestos lawsuits allow victims and their families to hold asbestos product manufacturers accountable for the illnesses they caused. You may be able to file a lawsuit if the manufacturers in question are still in business and doesn’t have trusts. If a loved one passed from asbestos rectal cancer, surviving family members can also file wrongful death cases.
- Veteran claims from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) allow veterans who became ill after exposure to asbestos during military service to get monthly disability compensation, VA health care, and more.
Find Help for an Asbestos Rectal Cancer Diagnosis
If you or a loved one were exposed to asbestos and later developed rectal cancer, you may be able to get financial help.
At Lung Cancer Group, our patient advocates have ample experience helping people with asbestos-related diseases and cancer get the compensation they deserve — compensation that can help families pay for treatment, travel to cancer centers, and cover other living expenses.
We may be able to connect you with skilled asbestos lawyers who can determine your eligibility. Get started with a free case review now.
Asbestos Rectal Cancer FAQs
Can asbestos cause rectal cancer?
Yes, asbestos may be linked to an increased risk of rectal cancer. Additionally, the more asbestos someone is exposed to, the higher the risk they will develop rectal cancer.
Get help with asbestos rectal cancer by calling (877) 446-5767 now.
How quickly can asbestos cause rectal cancer?
People with asbestos-related diseases often do not have symptoms until decades after initial exposure. It can take 10-50 years before asbestos-related cancers begin to show symptoms. This makes it difficult for people to be diagnosed in early stages when the cancer is easier to treat.
How can you tell if rectal cancer is caused by asbestos?
There are no tests to determine if your rectal cancer was caused by asbestos. However, if you worked in a high-risk asbestos occupation or were exposed to asbestos secondhand, it is likely asbestos increased your risk and the severity of your rectal cancer.
If you need help finding out if you were exposed to asbestos, call (877) 446-5767 now.
What are the first signs of rectal cancer?
The first signs or symptoms of rectal cancer may be difficult to notice.
Symptoms to be aware of include:
- Changes to usual bowel habits
- Discolored or bloody stool
- Weight loss
If you are experiencing these symptoms, talk with your doctor immediately to begin screening for rectal cancer or other conditions.
What is the survival rate for rectal cancer?
Rectal cancer has a fairly positive survival rate. If caught in the early stages, the 5-year survival rate is about 90%, meaning 9 out of 10 patients survive longer than 5 years. If found in more advanced stages, the 5-year survival rate is about 65%.