University of Cincinnati Cancer Institute | UCCI

Contact and Appointments: (513) 475-8500

Colorectal & Anal Cancer


UC Cancer Institute’s Colorectal & Anal Cancer team is comprised of nationally recognized experts in minimally invasive colorectal surgery, medical oncology and radiation therapy. Our specialists have fellowship training and board certification, demonstrating their superior level of training and skill in treating colorectal cancer.

Our specialists work together to review your case and recommend a treatment plan that will be most effective for your type and stage of cancer. We can manage early or advanced disease, offer you access to leading-edge clinical trials, and provide you with the latest testing and treatment options.

Colorectal cancer occurs in the large intestine, the lower part of the digestive tract. It is the third most common cancer in both men and women. Age, family history and inflammatory bowel conditions can increase your risk of getting colorectal cancer. It is a very treatable cancer, especially if caught early.

Why Choose UC Health for Your Colon and Rectal Cancer

Multiple specialists in one place.
If you have colon or rectal cancer, you may need a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Our surgeons specialize in minimally invasive surgeries of cancers in the pelvis. We also have medical oncologists and radiation oncologists who focus their practice on cancers in the colon and rectum.

We bring all of our specialists together so we can review your case and recommend a treatment plan that will be most effective for your type and stage of cancer. This multidisciplinary approach allows better communication among our specialists and means more timely treatment for you.

Our nurse navigator will help you schedule appointments for the same day within the center so you do not have the stress of traveling to different sites on different days.

Sophisticated cancer staging.
Evaluating the stage of a cancer – from early to advanced – helps us create a more effective treatment plan for you. We have the latest staging techniques for rectal cancer, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which helps us evaluate the benefit of various treatment options.

Interpretation of results by radiologists who specialize in the GI tract allows us to predict when treatments such as pre-surgical radiation will be beneficial.

Our physicians also have expertise in performing a colonoscopy and work with pathologists who specialize in GI diseases. Together, they interpret your results and stage your cancer so we can effectively treat your cancer.

Access to the latest treatments.
Our participation in clinical trials with multiple medical centers across the country gives you access to the most advanced treatments, long before they come to market. In addition, we stay current with the newest scientifically proven radiation and chemotherapy approaches and recommend them whenever they can be beneficial for you.

Diagnosing and Treating Colon and Rectal Cancer


We diagnose 99 percent of colorectal cancers using a colonoscopy, a procedure that allows us to view the entire length of your large intestine. Your physician inserts a long, flexible, lighted tube into the rectum to look for abnormal growths or precancerous tissue. We can remove abnormal growths such as polyps and test them further for cancer.

If we identify a rectal tumor, we use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and follow specific protocols to detect the exact locations and margins of the tumor. This allows us to determine whether or not preoperative radiation therapy might shrink your tumor before surgery.



Surgery is often the first line of treatment for colorectal cancer. UC Cancer Institute’s surgeons have been instrumental in bringing minimally invasive colorectal surgery to Cincinnati. They perform more colorectal surgeries than any other surgical team in Greater Cincinnati and provide training across the country on their minimally invasive techniques.

Our surgeons use laparoscopy or robotic-assisted surgery more than 90 percent of the time, compared to 40 percent nationally. These minimally invasive techniques lead to a significant reduction in wound infections, less pain and decreased complications in restoring the bowel to full function.

Transanal endoscopic microsurgery (TEM) is a minimally invasive option for the removal of certain rectal polyps and early stage rectal tumors. This technique is an alternative to major abdominal surgery, with no colostomy, faster recovery times and fewer complications. TEM makes it possible to remove tumors high inside the rectum that otherwise would be accessible only through open abdominal surgery. UC Health is one of the few places in the country to perform this surgery.

Laparoscopic abdominoperineal resection (APR), is a surgery in which the anus, rectum and sigmoid colon are removed to eliminate cancer located very low in the rectum or in the anus, close to the sphincter muscles (muscles that control bowel movements). Following tumor removal, the surgeon creates an opening (stoma) from the large intestine to the abdomen to eliminate waste. Since there is no muscle control of waste elimination, a pouch must be worn to collect the waste. We have enterostomal therapists who will work closely with you before and after surgery to teach you to incorporate use and care of the ostomy (opening) into your daily life.

Total Mesorectal Excision (TME) is surgery to remove a significant length of bowel around a tumor in the middle or lower rectum. The goal is to remove enough bowel to prevent the return of cancer to that area.

In the rare case that you need intensive care following surgery, our surgical intensive care unit is staffed with around-the-clock physicians and nurses who monitor the most subtle changes and make adjustments to maximize your rate of recovery and minimize complications from surgery.

Radiation Therapy

3D Conformal radiation delivers 3-D radiation beams precisely, from multiple angles, to kill cancer cells while minimizing damage to healthy cells.

Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) Similar in concept to 3D conformal radiation therapy, IMRT uses varying intensity within individual radiation beams in order to achieve “organ sparing” treatment (minimizing the amount of radiation to normal tissues surrounding the area being treated).

Our radiation therapy treatment is based on the latest scientific evidence. Each patient’s individualized plan is established with the thoughtful use of the all the latest technology, and in collaboration with the larger multidisciplinary colorectal team to determine the best approach and indications for radiation.


Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer drugs to destroy cancerous cells. Studies have shown that chemotherapy after surgery may increase the survival rate for patients with some stages of colon cancer. It can also be helpful before or after surgery for some stages of rectal cancer. Chemotherapy can also help slow the growth or relieve symptoms of advanced cancer.

Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) delivers heated chemotherapy treatment directly to the abdomen during surgery for cancer that has spread beyond the colon or rectum. We can give higher doses of chemotherapy with this technique, and heating it may also improve the absorption of the drugs by tumors and destroy microscopic cancer cells that remain in the abdomen after surgery. UC Health is one of only a few centers in the country offering this treatment option.

Targeted therapies are newer medications that may be used along with chemotherapy or sometimes by themselves. Because these therapies target the cancer cells and spare healthy cells, they have fewer side effects.

Clinical Trials

We have ongoing clinical trials, primarily with chemotherapies, for colorectal cancer.

For more information about diagnosis, treatment or clinical trials, call our nurse navigator at (513) 584-GIDR (4437).