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Surgery for colon cancer

Most people have surgery for colon cancer that hasn't spread. The operation you have depends on the position of the cancer in the bowel.

This section is about surgery for cancer that starts in the large bowel (colon cancer) that hasn't spread to another part of the body. 

Types of surgery for colon cancer

The type of surgery you have for cancer of the large bowel (colon) depends on the position and the size of the cancer in the bowel.  

Surgery to remove a small part of the bowel lining (local resection)

This surgery is for small, early stage cancers. Your surgeon removes the cancer from the bowel lining, along with a border of healthy tissue (margin).

Surgery to remove all of or a part of your bowel (colectomy)

Your surgeon might remove part of the colon containing the tumour. This is called a colectomy. 

Having a colostomy

A colostomy is an operation to create an opening (stoma) of the large bowel (colon) onto the surface of the tummy (abdomen).

Having an ileostomy

An ileostomy is an opening (stoma) of the small bowel (ileum) onto the surface of the tummy (abdomen).

Preparing for surgery

You have an appointment at the pre assessment clinic 1 or 2 weeks before your operation. Find out what happens and the tests you might have.

On the day

On the day of your operation your surgeon or nurse will explain about having an anaesthetic.

Going into hospital

You’ll probably go into hospital on the day of your operation or the day before. 

After surgery for bowel cancer

How you feel after your operation depends on what type of surgery you have. 

Problems after surgery

There is a risk of problems or complications after any operation. Many problems are minor but some can be life threatening. 

Surgery for advanced cancer

You might have surgery if advanced bowel cancer blocks your bowel and causes symptoms.  And sometimes you can have surgery to remove cancer that has spread to your liver or lungs. 

Last reviewed: 
29 Mar 2019
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