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Large bowel cancer

Large bowel cancer treatment at GenesisCare

The bowel is made up of two main parts – the small bowel and the large bowel. Both are part of the digestive system. The colon, rectum and anus make up the large bowel.

Chapter 01

Large bowel cancer

What is large bowel cancer?

Cancer in the large bowel is called large bowel cancer or colorectal cancer. It’s more common in men than women and in people over 50. Most large bowel cancers develop in the inner lining of the bowel.

Causes of large bowel cancer

It’s not always clear what cases large bowel cancer. However, certain factors increase your risk. These include:

  • Polyps
  • A family history of familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC, two rare genetic conditions that occur in some families
  • Being overweight
  • Heavy drinking and smoking
  • One or more family members have had bowel cancer
  • Having had inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). For example, Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
  • A high diet in red or processed meats such as ham or salami
  • Certain infections such HPV, HIV (anal cancer) and Helicobacter pylori infections
Chapter 02

Symptoms of large bowel cancer

  • Changes in your usual bowel habit (constipation or diarrhoea)
  • Feeling as if you haven’t emptied your bowel after a bowel movement
  • Light or dark blood in the stools or on toilet paper
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Pain when passing a bowel movement
  • Cramping, pains or swell of tummy
  • Unexplained weight loss

Having one or more of these symptoms doesn’t mean you have cancer but it’s best to ask your doctor for advice. The sooner your cancer is detected, the better the chances of treating it successfully.

Chapter 04

Test and diagnosis

Your doctor will discuss your symptoms and carry out a physical examination. You may also have:

  • Blood tests
  • Colonoscopy – to examine the bowel using a camera. Sometimes a tiny sample of tissue may be taken for analysis (biopsy)
  • Scans including CT, PET, MRI or ultrasound
  • Sigmoidoscopy or proctoscopy – both tests involve using a camera to examine the large bowel. Your doctor will also take a small tissue sample (biopsy)
  • X-ray
  • Genetic testing
Chapter 04

Treatments we offer

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy kills cancer cells. It’s used in the early stages of cancer treatment or after it has started to spread. It can also be used to relieve pain and discomfort from cancer that has spread.

There are many ways to have radiation therapy but they all work in a similar way. Carefully controlled high-energy X-rays destroy or damage cancer cells. This stops them growing or spreading.


Chemotherapy is medication that treats your cancer. The drugs kill cancer cells, preventing them from dividing and spreading further.

Chapter 05

Helpful resources

We understand that you may still have some unanswered questions, and we’re here to help you in any way we can. But if you are still seeking answers visit Targeting Cancer for further information about this condition or contact a staff member from a centre near you.

Any procedure including treatments involving radiation carry risks, including skin irritation and associated pain. Before proceeding with a referral for treatment, patients should be advised to seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner. As in any medical procedure, patient experiences and outcomes will vary.