Our ongoing commitment to providing outstanding patient care means we are implementing a new electronic patient record system. You may notice our processes take slightly longer than usual, and we apologise if this causes any inconvenience. Thank you for your understanding and patience.

Contact us

Colorectal Cancer

Bowel & Colorectal cancer

Bowel cancer and colorectal cancer are the same things. They are general terms for cancer of your large bowel.

Bowel cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed types of cancer in the UK.

Bowel/colorectal cancer treatments at Ramsay Health Care UK

At Ramsay Health Care UK, we have the latest technology to investigate bowel/colorectal cancer symptoms and to diagnose bowel/colorectal cancer. We use colonoscopy and blood tests, as well as imaging procedures such as abdominal, pelvic and chest CT scans to help stage your cancer.

Once we have your diagnostic results our team of experts discuss the best possible treatment for you, including any other possible therapies. Your surgeon or oncologist will explain the different treatments and their side effects and what you need to consider in your treatment decision. You will have the chance to ask all of your questions and we will answer them fully in plain English.

We understand the anxiety that bowel cancer symptoms can bring and the importance of early testing and diagnosis for a better treatment outcome.  We offer convenient appointments for consultations, diagnostics and treatment, all without waiting.

Typically, surgery is recommended to remove bowel/colorectal cancer. Your colorectal/bowel surgeon will discuss with you their recommendation for the type of bowel cancer surgery. We use minimally invasive techniques whenever possible so you can recover quicker. Our bowel/colorectal surgeons are highly experienced and qualified in this field so you can rest assured that you are in safe hands.

We offer all-inclusive Total Care packages for access to all the treatment and aftercare you need to give you complete reassurance, as well as being recognised by all major medical insurers.

We have strict protocols in place to minimise your risk of infection, including Covid-19 so you can visit our hospitals safely.

What is bowel/colorectal cancer?

Bowel/colorectal cancer is cancer that begins in your large bowel. It can also be called colon cancer or rectal cancer depending on where the cancer starts. Most bowel cancers occur in the rectum.

Bowel and colorectal cancer usually develop from small growths on your bowel wall that are called polyps. Most polyps are harmless and are called benign. However, some polyps become cancerous over time and are known as malignant polyps.

Cancerous polyps start to grow quickly and in a strange way. They can grow not just on your bowel lining but into the deeper layers of your bowel wall and to your surrounding tissues including your lymph nodes nearby. If bowel/colorectal cancer advances further, it can spread to other parts of your body such as your liver and lungs. In most cases, bowel cancer grows slowly over many years.

Bowel cancer is categorised into stages that tell you where the cancer is and how far it has spread. Staging bowel/colorectal cancer will help your doctor to determine the best treatment.

As with all cancers, the sooner bowel cancer is detected and diagnosed the better your outcome and chance of survival. It is important to see a doctor as soon as possible if you have bowel/colorectal symptoms. Your doctor will recommend bowel/colorectal cancer tests to investigate your symptoms further.

Most people diagnosed with bowel/colorectal cancer are over the age of 60. Bowel cancer screening is offered on the NHS every two years if you are aged between 60 and 74. This age range is due to be extended to include people aged 50 to 59.


What are the symptoms of bowel/colorectal cancer?

There are three main bowel/colorectal cancer symptoms.

  • Bleeding from your back passage or blood in your poo - that is persistent and happens for no obvious reason.
  • Ongoing change in your bowel habits – typically looser poo or having to poo more often.
  • Persistent stomach pain, cramping or bloating – that is always caused by eating. You may lose your appetite or have significant unexplained weight loss.

These symptoms of bowel/colorectal cancer can be easy to miss. You should take them more seriously as you get older and if they persist.


What are the different types of bowel/colorectal cancer?

The different types of bowel/colorectal cancer depend on the type of cell it starts in.

  • Adenocarcinoma – are by far the most common type of bowel/colorectal cancer. Adenocarcinomas start as gland cells in the lining of your bowel wall. The gland cells normally produce a slimy mucus that helps poo pass through your bowel. There are two rare types of adenocarcinoma called mucinous adenocarcinoma and signet ring adenocarcinoma.

Other types of bowel/colorectal cancer are much rarer. They include:

  • Carcinoid tumours– a slow-growing tumour in your hormone-producing tissue, usually in your digestive system. They are part of a group of cancers called neuroendocrine tumours (NETs). Carcinoid is treated in a different way from most common bowel cancer types.
  • Squamous cell tumours – these are skin cells that together with gland cells form your bowel lining. Squamous cell tumours are treated in the same way as anus cancer
  • Lymphomas - develop in a type of white blood cell called lymphocyte cells in your lymphatic system. Lymphocytes help your body fight infections. Lymphomas are treated very differently from other bowel cancers.
  • Sarcomas – also known as gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GISTs). Sarcomas are cancer that forms in supporting cells of your body, such as muscle in the lining of your bowel. Most bowel sarcomas are called leiomyosarcomas and started in smooth muscle. Sarcomas are treated differently from adenocarcinomas.
  • Melanoma - develops from skin cells called melanocytes. Melanoma is a type of skin cancer. It can begin in your rectum

These symptoms of bowel/colorectal cancer can be easy to miss. You should take them more seriously as you get older and if they persist.


What are bowel/colorectal cancer treatments?

Bowel/colorectal cancer treatment will depend on the stage of your bowel cancer, the part of your bowel that is affected, and your health and fitness for treatment.

Typically, surgery is the main treatment for bowel cancer. It can be combined with chemotherapy, radiotherapy or biological treatments.

Bowel cancer can be cured if it is detected in the early stages. However, a cure is not always possible and bowel cancer can come back. More advanced bowel/colorectal cancer is less likely to be cured.

  • Surgery– keyhole or laparoscopic colonoscopy removes polyps and early-stage cancers. For more advanced bowel cancer, surgery removes the cancerous portion of your bowel and some nearby tissue. The bowel ends are then re-joined together. If this is not possible or your surgeon wants to give your bowel a chance to heal, a stoma is created to allow waste to leave your body through a colostomy bag. Surgery may be performed using keyhole (laparoscopic) surgery where your surgeon inserts tiny instruments into several small cuts in your tummy, or by open surgery where your surgeon makes one large cut in your tummy.
  • Radiotherapy– destroys the cancer cells using radiation. It may be combined with bowel surgery. Radiation is typically used for rectal cancer treatment.
  • Chemotherapy– kills cancer cells using special anti-cancer drugs. It is used to remove cancers that have spread to other parts of your body. This may be before surgery to shrink tumours, after surgery to takeaway cancer not removed in surgery, or if it is not possible to carry out the surgery.
  • Targeted cancer drugs – medicines that hunt for cancer cells and interfere with the way they grow. They can be used alongside chemotherapy for bowel cancer especially if it has spread to other parts of your body.

Colon cancer treatment

Surgery is most commonly performed first if you have colon cancer. Keyhole surgery is more frequently used than conventional surgery as the results are the same and keyhole surgery offers much faster recovery times.

Sometimes, chemotherapy may be offered as a primary treatment for colon cancer, although this is less common.

Chemotherapy is often recommended as a follow-up treatment after bowel surgery, unless it is very early-stage cancer.

Rectal cancer treatment

You will usually have a short course of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, called chemoradiation, before surgery to treat rectal cancer. The chemoradiation helps shrink cancer and reduces its risk of return to your rectum.


Contact Enquiry

Need some advice or like to make an enquiry? We're here to help




  • Your choice of consultant
  • No cancellations
  • Appointments to suit you
  • 0% finance available
  • No waiting lists
  • Fixed price packages
  • Unlimited aftercare
  • Price Match

Terms and conditions apply

More Information



Spread the cost of your treatment

  • Fixed monthly payments over a term that enables you to budget
  • Loan money paid directly to Ramsay Health Care
  • A loan designed to put more expensive health procedures within easier reach
  • Simple Online application
More Information