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Patient Information

Presacral tumors are rare tumors that develop in the area between the rectum and the bottom portion of the spine (sacrum). Also described as retrorectal, this area is normally either empty or contains only fat.

Presacral tumors can be benign or cancerous (malignant) and can be difficult to diagnose because they are so rare. Diagnosis can also be challenging because the symptoms of presacral tumors often overlap with those of other conditions.

WakeMed’s gastroenterology team helps patients with presacral tumors lead longer and healthier lives through early detection, a range of treatment options, and individualized and collaborative care. When surgery is needed, our colorectal surgeons provide expert surgical care.

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What Are the Symptoms and Risk Factors of Presacral Tumors?

Presacral tumors are very treatable when caught early, so watching for early warning signs is crucial.

However, some people experience no symptoms of presacral tumors. When present, presacral tumor symptoms can include:

  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Change in normal bowel function
  • Pain in the lower back and down the legs
  • A sensation of heaviness
  • Pelvic pain

People at Higher Risk of Developing Presacral Tumors:

  • Those who have hereditary disorders, such as Currarino syndrome
  • Those who have congenital conditions from birth
  • Those who have cancer in another part of the body
  • Women

How Are Presacral Tumors Diagnosed?

Early detection is the best way to effectively treat presacral tumors.

If you are experiencing symptoms of a presacral tumor, your doctor will first administer a full physical exam. This will include a digital rectal exam in which the doctor will feel for lumps in the presacral area with a gloved finger.

If your providers suspects that you may have a presacral tumor, they may recommend one or more of the following diagnostic tests:

  • X-rays
  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests
  • Computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans
  • Endoscopy (using a lighted scope to view structures in the body)
  • Biopsy (performing lab tests on a sample of tissue)

How Are Presacral Tumors Treated?

At WakeMed, we work collaboratively to create a customized treatment plan for each patient. Depending on the size and development of the tumor, treatment can include:

  • Pelvic excision or pelvic resection to remove the tumor
  • Chemotherapy, which uses drugs to destroy cancer cells
  • Radiation therapy, which uses X-rays to destroy cancer cells

What Does Surgical Treatment Involve?

Thanks to minimally invasive robotic surgery and laparoscopy, our surgeons can often perform surgery for presacral tumors without making large incisions.

Learn more about what to expect from colorectal surgery.