A few things are very clear. Local recurrence of rectal cancer can be incredibly difficult to diagnose. Recurrence can happen very quickly after rectal resection surgery. CT scans and MRI images and CEA laboratory tests can all be ambiguous. Patients can have no symptoms of consequence and yet still be at very high risk. (See Recurrent Rectal Cancer: Diagnosis with MR Imaging versus CT).
Many other things are not at all clear, not just to a patient like myself, but to those practitioners who deal with such medical issues on a daily basis.
My medical oncologist has referred to the growth of "soft tissue" around the anastomosis. Right now, everthing seems "soft". The diagnosis is "soft". The prognosis is "soft". My sense of optimism is "soft". The statistics are "soft". I'd really like to be getting something more definitive, but I guess that is something I'll just have to get used to - it seems to be an integral part of this unwanted journey.