Bowel, Colon and Rectal Cancer

Bowel cancer is one of the most common cancers amongst Britons. Bowel cancer may also be referred to as colon or rectal cancer depending on where the cancer is located.

Inside your abdominal cavity is the long, tubular digestive tract. The second part of this tube – the large intestine – is composed of the colon and the rectum.

The inner lining of this “colorectal tube” can be a breeding ground for small tumours, called polyps. By the age of 60, an estimated 30-40% of people will have at least one adenomatous polyp – that is, a polyp with potential to become malignant, in their colon. Most bowel or colorectal cancers develop from polyps in the glandular tissue of the intestinal lining.

Most polyps are benign, but adenomatous polyps are known to have potential to become malignant. If bowel cancer is diagnosed and treated early, while the tumour is still localised, the disease is considered curable, with five-year survival rates of about 90%.

If the tumour continues to grow, cancer can spread directly through the bowel wall to surrounding tissues and organs, as well as into the lymphatic system to the lymph nodes and the bloodstream to distant organs such as the liver and lungs.

Risk factors

  • Increasing age
  • A family history of colorectal cancer
  • Colon polyps
  • Long-standing ulcerative colitis
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption


Colon cancer

Diagnosis and treatment options

Most colorectal cancers develop from polyps. Removal of colon polyps can aid in the prevention of colorectal cancer. Colon polyps and early cancer may have no cancer-specific early signs or symptoms. Therefore, regular colorectal cancer screening is important in the correct patient groups.

Diagnosis of colorectal cancer can be made by sigmoidoscopy or by colonoscopy with biopsy confirmation of cancerous tissue. Treatment of colorectal cancer depends on the location, size, and extent of cancer spread, as well as the health of the patient. Mr Stylianides works with a specialist stoma and cancer nurse, ensuring you have full support throughout your journey.