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How is bowel cancer treated?

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In brief: Treatment of bowel cancer

The type of treatment you have will depend on the size of the tumour, its position and whether it has spread.



Surgery


Surgery is the most common treatment for bowel cancer.

If you have surgery, the part of your large bowel that contains the cancer will be removed and the two open ends joined together. Lymph nodes (glands found throughout your body that are part of your immune system) near your bowel are often removed because they are the first place the cancer usually spreads to.

Sometimes, depending on the location and size of the cancer that is removed, the two ends of your bowel can't be rejoined. If this happens, the opening nearest the beginning of your bowel will be brought out on to the skin surface of your abdomen. A colostomy is an opening of your large bowel onto the surface of your tummy (abdomen) and an ileostomy is an opening of your small bowel onto the surface of the abdomen. The opening of the bowel is known as a stoma.

A bag is worn over the stoma, which collects your bowel movements outside your body. Most people who have surgery don't need a colostomy, but if you do, it's usually temporary.

If you have cancer in your rectum, you may need surgery to remove the part of your rectum that contains the cancer, as well as the fatty tissue and lymph nodes around your rectum. You're more likely to need a colostomy if you have cancer of the rectum than if you have cancer of the colon.


Non-surgical treatments


Chemotherapy and radiotherapy


Sometimes it's not possible to remove all the cancer by surgery, so you may need to have additional treatment with chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy.

These treatments are given to destroy any remaining cancer cells and to prevent it spreading further. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are also sometimes used to shrink the tumour before surgery or to kill any cancer cells that are left after surgery.

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy can both have side-effects.


Monoclonal antibodies

Monoclonal antibodies (MABs) are medicines that are designed to recognise and target markers that are commonly carried by cancer cells. There are three main MAB treatments for bowel cancer:


bevacizumab
• cetuximab
panitumumab


These medicines seek out cancer cells and stop them growing. They are sometimes used alongside chemotherapy. They can be used for various stages of cancer - ask your doctor for more advice.

In brief: Treatment of bowel cancer

The type of treatment you have will depend on the size of the tumour, its position and whether it has spread.



Surgery


Surgery is the most common treatment for bowel cancer.

If you have surgery, the part of your large bowel that contains the cancer will be removed and the two open ends joined together. Lymph nodes (glands found throughout your body that are part of your immune system) near your bowel are often removed because they are the first place the cancer usually spreads to.

Sometimes, depending on the location and size of the cancer that is removed, the two ends of your bowel can't be rejoined. If this happens, the opening nearest the beginning of your bowel will be brought out on to the skin surface of your abdomen. A colostomy is an opening of your large bowel onto the surface of your tummy (abdomen) and an ileostomy is an opening of your small bowel onto the surface of the abdomen. The opening of the bowel is known as a stoma.

A bag is worn over the stoma, which collects your bowel movements outside your body. Most people who have surgery don't need a colostomy, but if you do, it's usually temporary.

If you have cancer in your rectum, you may need surgery to remove the part of your rectum that contains the cancer, as well as the fatty tissue and lymph nodes around your rectum. You're more likely to need a colostomy if you have cancer of the rectum than if you have cancer of the colon.


Non-surgical treatments


Chemotherapy and radiotherapy


Sometimes it's not possible to remove all the cancer by surgery, so you may need to have additional treatment with chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy.

These treatments are given to destroy any remaining cancer cells and to prevent it spreading further. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are also sometimes used to shrink the tumour before surgery or to kill any cancer cells that are left after surgery.

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy can both have side-effects.


Monoclonal antibodies

Monoclonal antibodies (MABs) are medicines that are designed to recognise and target markers that are commonly carried by cancer cells. There are three main MAB treatments for bowel cancer:


bevacizumab
• cetuximab
panitumumab


These medicines seek out cancer cells and stop them growing. They are sometimes used alongside chemotherapy. They can be used for various stages of cancer - ask your doctor for more advice.
Quality HealthCare Team
Quality HealthCare Team
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Dr. Buck Parker
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