A general term for cancer that begins in the large bowel, bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK.

Also known as colon cancer or rectal cancer, depending on its location in the large bowel, it is a type of cancer that generally affects individuals who are over the age of 60. A number of treatments are available to treat bowel cancer, from bowel cancer surgery to radiotherapy, to chemotherapy. If it's detected in its early stages, such treatments can cure bowel cancer and stop it from coming back.

At New Victoria Hospital, our highly experienced Colorectal Consultants are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of bowel cancer. With access to a world-class imaging suite and the support of a specialist nursing team; our Colorectal Surgery Team offers an extensive bowel cancer screening programme and provides bowel cancer patients with the latest surgical and non-surgical treatments. 


What is Bowel Cancer?

The bowel is made up of two parts, the large bowel and the small bowel. Bowel cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is a cancer that affects the large bowel which includes the colon, the rectum and the bowel opening (anus).

As with any cancer, bowel cancer involves the uncontrolled dividing of abnormal cells. While its exact cause is not known, a number of factors can increase an individual’s chances of suffering from it:

  • Age – nearly 90% of bowel cancer sufferers are aged 60 or over
  • Diet – a diet that is high in red or processed meats and low in fibre
  • Weight – those who are overweight or obese are more at risk
  • Exercise – inactivity increases the risk of bowel cancer
  • Family history - those with a close family member who has contracted bowel cancer under the age of 50  are seen as high risk
  • Alcohol – drinking can increase the chances of contracting bowel cancer
  • Smoking – smoking may increase the risk of bowel cancer

Symptoms of Bowel Cancer

While a number of symptoms can indicate the presence of bowel cancer,  there are three main ones that are commonly found in those suffering from the condition:

  • Persistent blood in the faeces – Happening for no obvious reason or it occurs following a change in bowel habit.
  • A continued change in bowel habit – having to poo more often and faeces also becoming more runny.
  • Constant lower abdominal (tummy) pain, bloating or discomfort – happens mostly when eating and may be associated with loss of appetite or significant unintentional weight loss.

Bowel Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

Once you have been referred to New Victoria Hospital by your GP, our specialist diagnostic team will use the latest technology to establish whether you have bowel cancer, and if so, its severity. Diagnostic testing can include a colonoscopy (using a thin, flexible telescope to explore the large bowel), a sigmoidoscopy (using a small telescope to see inside the lower section of the large bowel), scans and blood tests.

If tests indicate the presence of cancer within the large bowel, your Colorectal Consultant will then advise you on the best course of treatment. Surgery is usually the main treatment for bowel cancer, but it is often combined with chemotherapy, radiotherapy or biological treatments, depending on where the cancer is and how aggressive it is.


Bowel Cancer Surgery

Surgery is the most common form of treatment for bowel cancer. The type of surgical procedure and how intrusive it is is dependent on where in the large bowel the cancer is and the stage it is at.

Common Surgeries for Areas of the Large Bowel:

  • Colon cancer surgery - If it is in its early stages only a small piece of the colon wall may need to be removed. However, if the cancer has spread to the surrounding muscles, the removal of an entire section of the colon may be required. This is called a colectomy.
  • Rectal cancer surgery - Local resection, total mesenteric excision, anterior resection and abdominoperineal resection are all types of surgery for rectal cancer. Some can be carried out through the bottom without the need for an incision.
  • Stoma Surgery - Often when a section of the bowel is removed and the remaining bowel joined, a Consultant may decide to divert poo away from the joint in order for it to heal properly.

How to Book an Appointment

If you would like to receive more information on the bowel cancer surgery and treatments we offer at New Victoria Hospital, please call us on 020 8949 9020 or fill out our online form. Our dedicated Outpatient Team will work to find you an appointment with a Colorectal Consultant at a convenient time on the earliest possible date.

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