Types of treatment for bowel cancer | Cancer Research UK
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Types of treatment for bowel cancer

Men and women discussing bowel cancer

This page outlines the main treatments for bowel cancer and tells you about how your doctor plans your treatment. You can find the following information

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Types of treatment for bowel cancer

When planning your treatment, your specialist will take into account the type and size of the cancer, whether it has spread (the stage), and what the cancer cells look like under the microscope (the grade). They will also consider your general health and fitness.

The main treatments

Surgery is the main treatment for most people diagnosed with bowel cancer. You may have chemotherapy or radiotherapy as well as an operation. If your cancer has spread (advanced bowel cancer), you may have a type of biological therapy. You usually have this with chemotherapy.

Second opinions

Some people feel they would like an opinion from a second doctor before they decide about their treatment. If you would like a second opinion, you can ask your specialist or your GP to refer you.

 

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the treating bowel cancer section.

 

 

The main treatments

The treatment you have depends on different factors, including the type of bowel cancer you have, its size and whether it has spread (the stage). Surgery is the main treatment for most people with bowel cancer. You may also have chemotherapy or radiotherapy. If your cancer has spread (advanced bowel cancer), you may have a type of biological therapy. You usually have this with chemotherapy.

We have pages on the types of treatment for early bowel cancer and the types of treatment for advanced bowel cancer

 

How doctors plan treatment

There are a number of factors that your specialist takes into account to plan your treatment

  • The type and size of the cancer
  • Your general health and fitness for treatment (performance status)
  • Whether the cancer has spread (the stage)
  • What the cancer cells look like under the microscope (the grade)

You may find that other people you meet are having different treatment from you. This may be because some of these factors are different. You can ask your doctor or specialist nurse any questions you have about your treatment.

It often helps to write down a list of questions you want to ask. You could also take a close friend or relative with you when you go to see the doctor so that they can help you to remember what was said.

 

Second opinions

Some people feel they would like to get an opinion from a second doctor before they decide on their treatment. If you would like a second opinion, you can ask your specialist or your GP to refer you. It can be better to arrange a second opinion through your specialist because then they can send all your notes and test results with you.

Some organisations can give you information about the choice of treatments available and how each treatment may affect you. You can also contact our cancer information nurses. They would be happy to help. If you want to find people to share experiences with online, you could use CancerChat, our online forum.
 

Bowel cancer impact statement - doubled survival

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Updated: 27 August 2015