Types of treatment
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
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.
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.
The main treatments
Surgery is the main treatment for 8 out of 10 people diagnosed with bowel cancer. You may have chemotherapy or radiotherapy as well as an operation.
You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the treating bowel cancer section.
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 the factors above 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.
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. Or the organisations can put you in touch with cancer support groups. In support groups you can talk to other people who have had those treatments and find out about their experiences.
If you want to find people to share experiences with online, you could use CancerChat, our online forum.
The treatment you have will depend on the stage of your cancer. As this varies, we have put more detailed information on separate pages. There is a page on the types of treatment for early bowel cancer. If your cancer has spread, you may hear it called advanced bowel cancer. There is another page on the types of treatment for advanced bowel cancer.
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