Colon & Rectal Cancers

At UC San Diego Health, you'll find comprehensive care for colon and rectal cancers with an integrated use of surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

We also offer genetic testing to look for mutations or genes associated with hereditary colon cancers as part of our Colorectal Cancer High-Risk Program.

Nationally Ranked Cancer Care

UC San Diego Health is repeatedly ranked among the nation's best in both cancer care and gastrointestinal care by U.S. News & World Report. We are also the only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in San Diego County. This is the highest possible rating for a U.S. cancer center, and it means you'll receive the best possible care and support. Studies show patient outcomes are better at NCI-designated cancer centers.

Our colorectal cancer care is accredited by the Commission on Cancer (CoC), reflecting our dedication to delivering the best possible care to patients with this type of cancer. 

Comprehensive, Personalized Treatments for Colon and Rectal Cancers

At your first visit, you will usually meet with your surgeon first to discuss what our pathologists have found about your cancer and review recommendations and options for treatment. Depending on your personalized care plan, you may be referred to a radiation oncologist, medical oncologist, or another cancer specialist.

Minimally Invasive Surgery

Expect the highest quality of surgical care from UC San Diego Health. Our surgeons were the first in the region to perform minimally invasive surgery for colorectal cancer. With our surgical expertise, you’re likely to experience less scarring, less pain and a faster recovery. 

Treatment of Early Stage Cancer

The majority of our colon cancer patients undergo minimally invasive surgery, including:

  • Removal of small polyps during a colonoscopy
  • Removal of large polyps through an endoscopic mucosal resection
  • Laparoscopic surgery, including TAMIS (transanal minimally invasive surgery), which combines single-incision laparoscopic methods with transanal endoscopic microsurgery

Surgery for Metastatic Colon Cancer

For metastatic colon cancer, your surgeon may recommend a colectomy, a procedure to remove all or part of the colon. Cancer that has spread to the liver may also be removed. If cancer is found in the abdominal cavity (locally advanced carcinomatosis), you may be a candidate for heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), a highly effective procedure used at only the leading cancer centers.

For advanced rectal cancer, a proctectomy may be necessary to remove all or part of the rectum. Depending on the stage of your cancer, you may be given chemotherapy and radiation before surgery. 

Radiation Therapy

Your treatment plan includes radiation therapy. UC San Diego Health's radiation oncology practice is integrated with the surgery and medical oncology practices within Moores Cancer Center. 

We offer the latest precision technologies in therapeutic radiation, and our radiation oncologists are national leaders in developing and translating new treatment techniques. 

Immunotherapy and Targeted Molecular Therapy 

Our understanding of cancer, including how genetics contribute to disease, is advancing rapidly. Depending on your cancer, you may be able to receive immunotherapy or targeted molecular therapy as part of your care.

Genetic testing may be used to predict your response to a certain treatment and select the best therapy for your tumor type.

Colorectal Cancer Doctors & Surgeons

At UC San Diego Health, your cancer care is led by a multidisciplinary team of doctors who specialize in your type of cancer. Highly specialized multidisciplinary care is a hallmark of top-tier academic medical centers such as UC San Diego Health. For patients like you, it means you receive the highest level of care. Find a colorectal cancer specialist.

Clinical Trials

Advancing Cancer Care and Prevention

UC San Diego Health physicians are actively researching ways to improve cancer care. By joining a clinical trial, you may receive a new cancer treatment before it is available to the public. If your cancer has not responded to standard therapies, talk to your doctor about whether a clinical trial could be right for you.

Patient & Family Support Services

At UC San Diego Health, your care goes beyond treating disease. It also includes supporting you and your loved ones emotionally throughout your cancer journey. Most of our support services are free.

Browse All Support Services