Bowel tumour size and outcome
My father has just been diagnosed with bowel cancer and has been told the tumour is probably very large. Does this mean it is less likely to be cured?
Bowel cancer can be difficult to diagnose early because it often has very vague symptoms. People may think that the problems are just due to a stomach bug or short term constipation or diarrhoea.
The earlier any cancer is diagnosed, the better the chance of the treatment being successful. If your father's bowel cancer has been there for some time, it has had more time to grow. So it may then have broken through the bowel wall or spread to other organs.
But large tumours do not always spread. Cancer is very unpredictable. The same type of cancer may grow in one place in one person and not spread at all. In another person, the cancer may spread at a much earlier stage. Your father will have tests to help show whether or not the cancer has spread to other organs. The tests also aim to show if it is possible to operate to remove the cancer completely.
If your father's cancer has not spread outside the bowel, it may be possible to cure it. If it has spread, the doctors may try to contain the cancer and stop it from spreading any further, rather than aiming to cure it. Even if the cancer is not likely to be completely cured, it may be possible to keep it under control for some years.
Your father may wish to ask his doctor about the stage of his cancer. The stage means how far the cancer has developed and whether it has spread.
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