Rectal Cancer

Facing a rectal cancer diagnosis can be challenging, but we are here to support you by offering comprehensive information on various treatment options, including brachytherapy.

Welcome to our Rectal Cancer Resource Page, a dedicated space for individuals navigating the challenges of rectal cancer and exploring various treatment options, including rectal cancer brachytherapy, a form of internal radiation therapy.

We understand that receiving a rectal cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming, but we want you to know that you are not alone in this journey.

This resource page provides valuable insights, support, and resources as you seek to understand your diagnosis and make informed decisions about your treatment.

Seeking information is a crucial step in your journey toward healing

We encourage you to explore the information, ask questions, and engage with your doctor.

No one should face rectal cancer alone, and together, we can empower you with the knowledge and support you need to navigate your treatment options successfully. Your health and well-being are of the utmost importance, and we are here to assist you every step of the way.

What is Rectal Cancer?

Rectal cancer, a type of colorectal cancer, arises from malignant cells in the rectum, the last several inches of the large intestine.

Rectal cancer is not as uncommon as one might think.

According to the American Cancer Society's estimates for 2023, there are anticipated to be 46,050 new cases of rectal cancer in the United States.1 and approximately 5% of people will develop rectal cancer at some point in their lives.2.

Worldwide, the International Agency for Research on Cancer estimates an increase of 79.5% in new cases between 2022 and 2050.3

Brachytherapy (internal radiation therapy) is a type of radiation therapy used to treat certain rectal cancers.

For this treatment, the applicator, specifically tailored for the rectum, facilitates the passage of the radioactive material, enabling radiation delivery. This allows the radiation to reach the rectum without passing through the skin and other tissues of the belly (abdomen), so it's less likely to damage nearby anatomical surroundings.

This treatment approach is highly effective in treating a specific subset of rectal cancer types and patients. It has shown a high cure rate, especially when combined with other treatment modalities. It is also associated with fewer side effects than traditional radiation therapy or surgery.

Patients need to discuss their rectal cancer treatment options with their healthcare providers. Brachytherapy may not be the best option for every patient, and other treatment options may be more appropriate depending on the stage and severity of the cancer. When deciding on a treatment plan, the doctor will consider and discuss several factors with the patient, such as the patient's age, overall health, and personal preferences.

Treating Rectal Cancer

When it comes to treating rectal cancer, there are several options available, such as surgery, radiation therapy, and brachytherapy.

The choice of treatment depends on the cancer's stage, the location of the tumor, and the patient’s overall health.

Surgery is a primary treatment option for rectal cancer that has not spread to distant sites and involves removing a part or the entire rectum (proctectomy).

Radiation therapy, on the other hand, involves using high-energy beams to kill cancer cells and can be delivered externally (external beam radiation therapy) or internally (brachytherapy).

Brachytherapy, also known as internal radiation therapy, is a minimally invasive procedure during which an applicator, specifically tailored for the rectum, facilitates the passage of the radioactive material, enabling radiation delivery to kill cancer cells. Brachytherapy has many advantages over other treatment options, including a shorter recovery time, fewer side effects, and an overall better quality of life. However, it is not suitable for all patients and must be carefully considered by a healthcare provider.

Each treatment option has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. A healthcare provider can assist patients in evaluating these, enabling them to make well-informed decisions regarding the most suitable treatment for their needs.

Brachytherapy for Rectal Cancer

Brachytherapy is a minimally invasive procedure. It involves placing an applicator specifically designed for the rectum, which facilitates the passage of the radioactive material and enables radiation delivery.

Endorectal Brachytherapy

Brachytherapy for rectal cancer is typically performed using endorectal brachytherapy.

"Endorectal" refers to inside the rectum. This treatment involves placing a flexible mold (called a rectal applicator) into the rectum to deliver high-intensity radiation directly to the tumor for a few minutes. Endorectal brachytherapy has been used as palliative or preoperative treatment for advanced or locally advanced rectal cancer with moderate radiation-induced toxicity. Preoperative treatment for advanced or locally advanced rectal cancer with moderate radiation-induced toxicity.

High-Dose-Rate Brachytherapy

For rectal cancer, the most common type of brachytherapy is typically high-dose-rate (HDR) brachytherapy. This approach involves delivering a high dose of radiation to the tumor over a short period in multiple sessions. HDR brachytherapy is often used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan, including surgery, chemotherapy, and/or external beam radiation therapy.

Patient Experiences

Our patient stories section features a diverse range of stories from men and women who have undergone different types of treatment for rectal cancer, including brachytherapy. These personal accounts provide a unique perspective on the challenges and triumphs of rectal cancer treatment and offer valuable insights into the emotional and physical aspects of the journey.

Some stories focus on the decision-making process leading up to treatment, while others detail the treatment and recovery processes. By sharing their experiences, patients can help others better understand what to expect and offer encouragement and hope.

In addition to providing valuable information and emotional support, patient stories can also serve as a source of inspiration for those who are struggling with rectal cancer. By seeing others who have overcome similar challenges, patients can feel empowered to take charge of their health and make informed decisions about their treatment options.

View Our Patient Stories

Other Rectal Cancer Resources

To better understand your treatment options, visit our partners at [include other resources]. Learn more about rectal cancer treatment options.

Download our rectal cancer brachytherapy patient guide (pdf) for details of how brachytherapy can treat rectal cancer and assist patients and their families.

The Precise Answer for Tackling Rectal Cancer

Download the rectal cancer patient guide (pdf)


  1. American Cancer Society. (2023). Key statistics for colorectal cancer. Retrieved from
  2. Cleveland Clinic (2021). How common is rectal cancer? Retrieved from
  3. Global Cancer Observatory: Cancer Tomorrow (2022). Available from:

DISCLAIMER: Elekta is an equipment manufacturer and cannot guarantee a prospective patient’s experience or outcomes. Patient statements presented on this site reflect individual experiences and do not necessarily represent the experiences of all patients who undergo brachytherapy treatment with Elekta equipment or necessarily reflect the view of Elekta.

This material may contain general information relating to various conditions and their treatments. Such information is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for advice by a doctor or other qualified healthcare professional. Patients should not use the information contained herein for diagnosing a health condition or disease. Patients should always consult with a doctor or other qualified healthcare professional for medical advice or information about diagnosis and treatment options.

Nevertheless, there are a number of high-quality online resources that you may find useful. Among them, the American Cancer Society and the US National Cancer Institute have high-quality information resources that are multi-lingual and available worldwide.

Professional organizations dedicated to cancer treatment also have resources that may be useful. These include the American Society for Radiation Oncology the American Society of Clinical Oncology the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) and the European Society for Therapeutic Radiation Oncology.