Dr Timothy Leigh
There are various treatments available depending on the tumour and how advanced it is at the time of diagnosis. A tumour which is shown to be restricted entirely to the bowel wall can be treated with surgery alone, but if there is a suggestion that the tumour may have spread either through the bowel wall or to local lymph nodes or possibly further away such as the liver or lungs then treatment may be in the form of chemotherapy, possibly in combination with surgery. Occasionally it is possible to remove surgically single areas where the tumour has spread in the liver (metastases) and there are also other more specialised techniques available to treat such metastases.
Mr Mohammed Saeed
The primary treatment for bowel cancer is surgical removal of the segment of bowel containing the cancer. This can be done either by open surgery with a cut in the tummy or in some cases with keyhole surgery where the cut in the tummy is much smaller and therefore recovery is much faster. Chemotherapy and for rectal cancer radiotherapy are used in addition to rather than instead of surgery depending on the extent of the cancer.
Mr Simon Radley
There are an increasing number of treatments available for bowel cancer. The main treatments have tended to be surgical and usually involve removing a section of the affected bowel. This can frequently be performed as a key hole (laparoscopic or robotic) procedure with excellent results for patients in terms of recovery, scarring etc. Radiotherapy is frequently used for cancers in the rectum, to shrink cancers or reduce the risk of them recurring. An increasingly large variety of chemotherapies are available to use to prevent the risk of recurrence after surgery or to treat patients who have recurrent or more advanced disease when they are diagnosed.
Mr James McCourtney
Surgery is the main treatment in 8 out of 10 people with bowel cancer. Chemotherapy or radiotherapy may also be used as well as an operation.
Most people with early bowel cancer have surgery to remove all of the cancer. If the cancer has spread into the glands next to the bowel (lymph nodes) then there is a chance that the cancer cells may have spread to other parts of the body such as the liver and lungs. These cells can develop into secondary cancers (metastases) in the future so additional treatment may be needed.
Radiotherapy tends not to be used to treat cancer of the large bowel (colon) but is frequently used before or after surgery if you have a cancer in the back passage (rectum). Radiotherapy can be combined with chemotherapy to shrink the cancer and make it possible to completely remove it.
Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to destroy cancer cells. The drugs disrupt the cancer cells growth and circulate in the bloodstream throughout your body. Some chemotherapy is given prior to surgery for rectal cancer along with radiotherapy. This aims to shrink the cancer and make it easier to remove. Chemotherapy may also be given after surgery for bowel cancer. You may also be given chemotherapy if your bowel cancer has spread.
Biological therapies are newer drugs that can help the body to control the growth of cancer cells.
The treatment depends on how advanced the cancer is when it is diagnosed. The mainstay of treatment for confirmed bowel cancer is an operation to remove the cancer and its surrounding lymph glands. The bowel ends are usually joined back together but sometimes a colostomy bag is required. Nowadays, these operations are performed by keyhole surgery and patients typically spend less than a week in hospital.
Often, surgery is all the treatment that is needed but If the cancer is advanced chemotherapy is offered and this can last for 6 months. Surgery can also be used to remove certain cancers that have spread to the liver or lungs but this is not always possible.
For cancer in the rectum, radiotherapy is often used to shrink down the tumour before surgery