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Abdom Imaging. 2014 Aug;39(4):824-52. doi: 10.1007/s00261-014-0119-8.

Benign and malignant tumors of the rectum and perirectal region.

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Abdominal Imaging Section, Imaging Institute, Cleveland Clinic, 9500 Euclid Avenue, JB3, Cleveland, OH, 44195, USA,


Although most rectal masses are histologically characterized as adenocarcinomas, the rectum and perirectal region can be affected by a wide variety of tumors and tumor-like conditions that can mimic the symptoms caused by rectal adenocarcinoma, including mucosal or submucosal rectal tumors such as lymphoma, gastrointestinal stromal tumor, leiomyosarcoma, neuroendocrine tumor, hemangioma, and melanoma, as well as tumors of the perirectal region such as developmental cyst, neurogenic tumor, osseous tumor, and other miscellaneous conditions. As a group, tumors of the rectum are considerably different from the group of tumors that arise in the perirectal region: they are most often neoplastic, symptomatic, and malignant, whereas tumors arising in the perirectal region are most commonly congenital, asymptomatic, and benign. Proctoscopy with biopsy is the most important method for the diagnosis of rectal tumors, but this procedure cannot determine the precise intramural extension of a rectal tumor and cannot accurately distinguish submucosal and intramural tumors from extramural tumors. Cross-sectional imaging, especially transrectal ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging, allows evaluation of the entire bowel wall thickness and the perirectal tissues, helping further characterize these tumors. Recognition of the existence of these masses and their key clinical and imaging features is crucial for clinicians to accurately diagnose and appropriately manage these conditions.

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