Clinical update: colon, rectal, and anal cancers

Semin Oncol Nurs. 2012 Nov;28(4):e1-22. doi: 10.1016/j.soncn.2012.09.012.


Objectives: To present an updated review of the incidence, risk factors, staging, diagnosis, and treatment of colon, rectal, and anal cancers, as well as nursing care associated with managing patients diagnosed with these malignancies.

Data sources: Published research reports, epidemiologic data, published patient management guidelines, and institution-based clinical tools.

Conclusion: While significant advances in the management of colon, rectal, and anal cancers in the past decade have extended patient survival, there remain some unanswered questions. Further clinical and molecular research will help individualize patient care, refining current therapeutic strategies and treatment decision-making aids while minimizing symptoms of disease and treatment.

Implications for nursing practice: Nurses need to be familiar with risk factors, disease course, and current and emerging therapies to assist patients with treatment decision-making, and to anticipate and intervene in managing disease and treatment-induced problems. Early identification and management of distressing symptoms can help to avoid life-threatening effects and promote patient adherence to prescribed therapies; timely patient/family education may minimize anxiety and promote self-management.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anus Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Anus Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Anus Neoplasms / therapy
  • Colonic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / therapy
  • Humans
  • Rectal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Rectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Rectal Neoplasms / therapy