Newly diagnosed with Bowel Cancer?

If you have taken part in bowel cancer screening and blood is detected in your poo sample, you will be sent a letter with a colonoscopy appointment. This doesn’t mean you have bowel cancer but it does mean that further investigation is required so it is really important to attend this appointment. Alternatively you may have experienced symptoms and been referred for a colonoscopy by your GP. Either way, it is equally important to attend.

Can we help?

The questions below may help you if you are going for a colonoscopy or if you have had a colonoscopy and bowel cancer has been detected.

What is a colonoscopy?

A tiny camera at the end of a long, think tube is inserted in your anus (back passage). The medic who is carrying out the colonoscopy will be able to operate the camera and tube remotely to move it along your bowel to find the cause of your symptoms or any bleeding. The picture is relayed to a screen. The colonoscopy can be uncomfortable so you may be offered a local anaesthetic or sedative.

I had a colonoscopy and they found a polyp, what does that mean?

A polyp is a tiny growth with a long ‘stalk’. Polyps develop as a reaction to age and damage in the colon. They are not dangerous but if left they can become cancerous.  If a polyp is found during a colonoscopy it may be removed there and then. If there’s more than one polyp you may have to come back for another colonoscopy when they can all be removed. This is a simple, non-surgical procedure that often doesn’t require any further treatment.

I had a colonoscopy and have been told that I have bowel cancer, what happens next?

If bowel cancer has been detected from a colonoscopy you will probably have some follow-up scans so that your consultant has more information about the cancer, as the colonoscopy will only show the cancer from inside your colon. Your consultant will need to know how deep the cancer is within your bowel wall and whether it has spread beyond your bowel in order to assess the stage of the cancer. There are a number of different types of scans that could be used, as well as biopsy. (A biopsy is a tiny sample of cells taken from the area for analysis to find out more about the cancer.)

Find out more

Once these test have been completed your consultant will be able to advise on your treatment.

I have been to see my consultant but it was all a bit of a blur. What do I need to know about my treatment?

After a consultation you should get a letter explaining your diagnosis and initial treatment. This will also be sent to your GP. Ask your surgery for a phone appointment so that your doctor can clarify your treatment. Important things you need to know are:

  • what stage is the cancer
  • will it require surgery
  • will it require radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy treatment?

You might also like to know how long your treatment is likely to take and any possible long-term or permanent outcomes, such as needing a stoma.

I have another question, can you help?

If your question is general, we may be able to help. Any questions about your own diagnosis and treatment should be answered by the doctors and nurses who are treating you.

If your question is general, please do contact us and then we can add it to our FAQs.

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