Large bowel

Large bowel cancer treatment at GenesisCare

We are specialists in the latest techniques for diagnosing and treating all types of cancer, including large bowel cancer. We have teams of highly trained cancer specialists who are experts in this disease. They work together to evaluate the newest, evidence-based approaches so we can offer these to every patient – without delay.

Mary's story GenesisCare
Chapter 1

Treatment overview

Large bowel cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer in the UK, and according to Cancer Research UK, there are around 42,000 new cases of large bowel cancer in the UK each year. It mainly affects older people, however, regular colorectal cancer screening and early diagnosis significantly improves the outcomes for many.

Large bowel cancer affects the colon and rectum, which make up the large intestine. It's sometimes shortened to bowel cancer, but depending on the location, it can also be called colon, rectal or colorectal cancer.

We are the UKs leading specialist private cancer care provider. By choosing us, you can be reassured that your treatment will be managed by a team of specialists working together, with you, to decide the best, personalised care plan for your diagnosis. 

Large bowel cancer treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, targeted therapies or immunotherapy, along with specialists in diet if needed. We combine this with consultant-led integrative care, such as wellbeing therapies and psychological support, to help you achieve the best possible outcome. Our qualified physiotherapists and wellbeing consultants will carefully plan these therapies tailored to your needs by working with you and your consultant. 

Its our commitment to offering world-class care to every patient with cancer. 

How is large bowel cancer treated?

There are several options of treatment available for large bowel cancer, such as:  

  • Surgery – removal of part or all of the large bowel 
  • Chemotherapy – anti-cancer drugs which destroy the cancerous cells 
  • Radiotherapy – high-energy radiation beams which are targeted at the cancer cells 
  • Targeted therapy – a specialised group of drugs that attack or block certain processes in the cancer cells  
  • Immunotherapy – drugs that help your bodys immune system recognise and fight the cancer 

Contact us

These web pages provide more information about large bowel cancer treatment at GenesisCare. If you'd like to contact us in confidence, we will be happy to answer any of your questions.
Contact us
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Chapter 2

Diagnostics

How is large bowel cancer diagnosed?

At GenesisCare, we diagnose and treat a wide range of cancers, and we understand that this can be a worrying time. Our diagnostic services are first-class, and our commitment is to give you the answers you need, as quickly as possible. Its important to remember that symptoms can often be caused by other conditions and not always large bowel cancer. Butwhatever your diagnosis, we can make sure you get the expert care you need and without delay. 

If youre concerned about large bowel cancer symptoms, we offer specialist large bowel cancer tests and diagnostics in our centres. Here youll see one of our expert consultants who specialise in cancers affecting the colon and rectumTheyll assess your symptoms and, if necessary, refer you for diagnostic tests such as a digital rectal examination (DRE), faecal immunochemical test (FIT), flexible sigmoidoscopy, proctoscopy, colonoscopy, blood tests, biopsy or imaging scans (including CTPET/CTMRI or ultrasound). You may also need to see one of our and specialist dietitians 

Large bowel cancer symptoms

Most large bowel cancers develop from small growths on the inner lining of the bowel, called polyps. The main signs of bowel cancer include: 

  • Changes in your usual bowel habits, such as having constipation or diarrhoea 
  • Feeling as if you havent emptied your bowel properly after a bowel movement
  • Lights or dark blood in your stools 
  • Pain when passing bowel movements 
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Abdominal pains 
  • Unexplained weight loss or loss of appetite 
  • Tiredness  
  • Low red blood cell count (anaemia) 

Other benign conditions may cause these symptoms and having one or more of the signs above doesnt mean you have large bowel cancer. If youre concerned about large bowel cancer, you should talk to your GP, and they can refer you to a specialist if they think its needed, or you can book directly with us. 

Sometimes, the cancer can cause a complete or partial blockage of the large bowel. Symptoms of this include: 

  • Abdominal pains 
  • Vomiting 
  • Constipation  
  • Bloating 

If you think you have a blockage or in the bowel, you need to go to your nearest accident and emergency department (A&E). 

Chapter 3

Surgery

Surgery is the primary treatment for large bowel cancers that haven't spread and forms part of an overall treatment and care plan for colon and rectal cancers.

Our consultants include expert surgeons who work in local and nationally renowned hospitals and will work together with other cancer specialists to decide the best course of treatment for you. If your consultant recommends large bowel cancer surgery, this can be arranged conveniently at one of our partner hospitals. You can then continue your other treatments at GenesisCare.

There are different procedures for large bowel cancer surgery, and your surgeon will recommend the most appropriate technique depending on the location, size and stage of your tumour. Your surgeon will usually remove the affected part of your bowel.

Our team also includes specialist dietitians, who may be involved in preparing you for surgery and helping with your recovery and rehabilitation.

Surgery side effects

No treatment is without side effects. Your doctor will explain these to you, together with the ways your treatment plan and supportive care can help manage or minimise these. 

Chapter 4

Drug treatments

At GenesisCare, we offer all drug therapies that can be used to treat large bowel cancer, including many of the newest treatments. Depending on how these treatments are given, you may need to attend one of our private chemotherapy suites, which are staffed by our specialist nurses. Our compassionate nursing teams are available 24/7 on a dedicated on-call telephone service and can answer any queries during your treatment. They'll be able to provide advice about side effects or symptoms and help arrange appropriate medical care when needed.

Our centres have all received the Macmillan Quality Environment Mark to reflect the quality of care we provide for people living with cancer. 

There are different types of drug treatments, also called systemic anti-cancer therapies. Our expert teams continually review and assess new treatments to make these available to GenesisCare patients as early as possible.  

 

Chemotherapy for large bowel cancers 

Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer drugs to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy for large bowel cancer can be delivered on its own or with radiotherapy (chemoradiation). You may be offered chemotherapy or chemoradiation before surgery to reduce the size of your tumour before the operation, or after surgery to reduce the chance of the cancer from coming back.  

Targeted therapy and immunotherapy for large bowel cancers 

Targeted (also called biological) therapies are a specialised group of drugs that have been designed to attack or block specific processes in cancer cells that tumours depend on to survive and grow. Immunotherapies work by helping your bodys immune system to recognise and fight the cancer 

You may have these therapies as part of your treatment for advanced or metastatic large bowel cancer, where it has spread to other parts of your body. At GenesisCare, we offer the following treatments for large bowel cancer: 

  • Monoclonal antibody (MABs) – recognise and bind to proteins on the outside of cancer cells which encourage them to divide 
  • Anti-angiogenesis inhibitors – stop cancer cells from producing new blood vessels to supply them with the nutrients and oxygen they need to grow 
  • Cancer growth blockers – block proteins in cancer cells that encourage them to grow. These exist in both intravenous and orally administered forms 

There may also be opportunities to access clinical trials for the newest treatments for large bowel cancer. 

Personalised medicine 

For some advanced cancers, we use specialist tests, such as liquid biopsy or genomic testing, to understand cancer cells’ genetic makeup. This helps us to identify which drugs are available to work against the particular genetic mutations in your cancer, allowing us to start effective treatment confidently and without delay. 

Drug treatment side effects 

No treatment is without side effects. Your doctor will explain these to you depending on your drug treatment, together with how your treatment plan and supportive care can help manage or minimise these. 

Medical Oncology
Chapter 5

Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy uses targeted, high-energy radiation beams to destroy cancer cells. It's a standard treatment for rectal cancers, however, it's not usually an option for patients with colon cancer unless it has spread.

At GenesisCare, we're the leading private provider of radiotherapy in the UK and offer world-class expertise and state-of-the-art facilities that specialise in advanced radiotherapy techniques. Our latest-generation radiotherapy machines (called linacs) deliver highly targeted radiation beams that are designed to be effective while minimising the radiation dose to healthy tissues.

Your treatment will be governed by our expert multidisciplinary teams (MDTs), consisting of oncologists, radiotherapists and dietitians, who work together to ensure that you only receive the best possible care.

Radiotherapy techniques for large bowel cancer

Volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) is a modern radiotherapy technique that directs beams of radiation in an arc across the treatment area. Together with surface-guided radiotherapy (SGRT), its possible to precisely target areas of cancer, adjusting the beam and intensity of the radiation dose to allow for movements in the body and avoid healthy tissues. Side effects of radiotherapy occur when healthy tissues receive radiation, so using this technique helps to limit the dose to tissues and organs surrounding the tumour. At GenesisCare, we offer VMAT wherever possible because it is widely recognised to be the highest standard of care currently available for patients needing this type of radiotherapy. 

We also offer palliative VMAT radiotherapy for those living with advanced large bowel cancer, where it has spread elsewhere in the body, to improve pain and increase mobility. We understand that fast access to palliative care is paramount and can usually provide treatment within 48 hours of a planning imaging scan. 

Stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR) is an advanced radiotherapy technique that uses very focused, high-energy radiation beams to remove tumours in five or fewer sessions – its often used instead of surgery. SABR may be available to patients with advanced (metastatic) large bowel cancer that has spread to the liver, lungs, bone, lymph node or brain.  

At GenesisCare, we have the UKs first MRIdian MR linac machine, which delivers MRI-guided SABR. For some hard-to-treat secondary tumours, we use this revolutionary treatment that combines an MRI scanner and a radiotherapy machine, to see exactly where a tumour is at the same time as treating it. At GenesisCare, we use MRIdian to treat multiple secondary tumours in the liver and lung and re-treat people who have previously had radiotherapy. 

Side effects of radiotherapy

No treatment is without side effects. Your doctor will explain these to you start your course of radiotherapy, together with the ways your treatment plan and supportive care can help manage or minimise these. 

Advanced radiotherapy
Chapter 6

Integrative care

At GenesisCare, we do more than just treat your cancer. As part of our unique and integrative approach to cancer care, you can expect the best possible care and a personalised treatment plan that includes access to life-changing therapies which are proven to improve cancer-related outcomes. These therapies will be tailored to you to help you manage and cope with your cancer as well as the specific side effects of treatment.

Exercise medicine

Exercise medicine is a personalised programme of carefully planned and supported physical activity that has been shown to improve outcomes for cancer patients, enhancing quality of life and limiting the impact of cancer, such as by improving strength and reducing fatigue. One of our physiotherapists specialising in exercise for people living with cancer will provide a 12-week programme tailored to your needs and supported by our dedicated GenesisCare Exercise Medicine app. Theyll work closely with you to monitor changes in your health and support you throughout the programme to help you get the best results. This is available at selected GenesisCare centres. 

Wellbeing

We also offer a wellbeing expert and holistic therapies such as counselling, acupuncture, massage and reflexology through our unique partnership with the Penny Brohn UK charity. This service is available to all large bowel cancer patients at any of our 14 UK centres 

Chapter 7

Why choose us?

GenesisCare is a leading private provider of cancer care, offering the latest innovations and techniques that are proven to be safe and effective. If you choose us for large bowel cancer treatment you will be under the care of a team of experts, including consultant oncologists, surgeons and dietitians. They will design a personalised care plan based around your diagnosis and preferences, with treatment starting within days if needed. Every patient is also supported through their journey with life-changing therapies, such as exercise medicine and psychological support.

Our dedicated cancer centres are convenient and easy-to-access. You can use your private medical insurance, and were recognised by all leading insurers. 

Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, our priority is to continue providing the very best cancer care with meticulous measures in place to ensure our patients receive the treatments they need safely and without delay. You can find out more about our COVID-19 safety measures here. 

We are proud that so many patients rate our care as excellent as we help them through their cancer journey. Find out more about the unique experiences of people who have had their cancer diagnosis or treatment at GenesisCare in our patient stories section.