Colonrectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer means cancer of the large bowel and rectum. This is the third commonest cancer in the UK with approximately 40,000 new cases each year.

Symptoms:

  • The common symptoms for bowel cancer include rectal bleeding, persistent change in bowel habits , weight loss, anaemia, difficulty in evacuation of bowels
  • Right colon cancers are more likely to present with anaemia
  • Left colon and rectal cancers are more likely to present with altered bowel habits, rectal bleeding and tenesmus (feeling of incomplete evacuation)

Investigation

  • Clinical examination and routine blood tests.
  • Colonoscopy for direct visualisation of the colon.
  • Staging of disease requires CT scan of chest, abdomen and pelvis and in case of rectal Cancer an MRI of the rectum.

Treatment:

  • Early diagnosis is the key to achieving long term survival.
  • Surgery is the mainstay of treatment for bowel cancer.
  • Most of the operations can be performed by Laparoscopic "Keyhole" approach.
  • Some patients with colonic cancer will require chemotherapy before or more commonly after the operation.
  • Some patients with rectal cancer may require chemo-radiotherapy before the operation followed by chemotherapy after surgery.
  • Patients are usually followed up for five years after potentially curative surgery.
  • The follow-up includes clinical examination, blood test to check tumour markers ,Two CT scans in first three years and a colonoscopy at one year.