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Health Information Center

Presacral Tumor

  • Michael Jubinville, MPH
Publication Type:


Presacral Tumor

(Retrorectal Tumor)


Presacral tumors are rare tumors that start between the rectum and the sacrum. The sacrum is the lowest part of the spine. The tumor can range from a cyst to a mass that invades nearby structures. It can be cancerous, but this is rare.


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A presacral tumor may be caused by:

  • Problems that are present from birth
  • Structural defects—can be caused by Currarino syndrome
  • Other forms of cancer that have spread

Risk Factors

Presacral tumors are more common in women.


Presacral tumors may not have any symptoms. In those that have them, symptoms may be:

  • Pain in the lower back, rectum, or pelvis
  • Pain that spreads down the legs
  • A feeling of heaviness
  • Problems passing stool (poop)
  • Problems holding urine (pee)
  • Weight loss


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done, which includes a digital rectal exam. The doctor will feel for lumps with a lubricated, gloved finger in the rectum. Other tests may include:

  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests
  • Imaging tests to look at the area such as:
  • Endoscopy—a lighted scope placed in the body to view structures
  • Biopsy—a sample of tissue is taken and tested in a lab (not always needed)


Treatment depends on the size and type of tumor. Options may include:

  • Surgery to remove the tumor.
  • Chemotherapy —The use of drugs to kill cancer cells. It may be given by mouth, shots, or IV. The drugs enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body.
  • Radiation therapy—This may be used along with chemotherapy. Radiation therapy involves using radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.


There are no guidelines to prevent a presacral tumor.





  • Kim CW, Lee SH. Laparoscopic resection of presacral tumor: a new approach in the era of the minimally invasive surgery. J Minim Invasive Surg. 2019;22(3):131-133.
  • Pappalardo G, Frattaroli FM, Casciani E, et al. Retrorectal tumors: the choice of surgical approach based on a new classification. Am Surg. 2009;75(3):240-248.
  • Presacral tumors. USCF Center for Colorectal Surgery website. Available at: https://colorectal.surgery.ucsf.edu/conditions--procedures/presacral-tumors.aspx.
  • Presacral tumors. WakeMed Physician Practices website. Available at: https://www.wakemed.org/wakemed-physician-practices/specialties/general-surgery/services-and-specialties/colorectal-surgery/colorectal-conditions/presacral-tumors.


  • Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.