Treatment for bowel (rectal) cancer

Bowel cancer can start in the large bowel (colon cancer) or back passage (rectal cancer). It is also called colorectal cancer. 

This section is about treatment for rectal cancer that hasn't spread to another part of the body.

When colon and rectal cancer spread to another part of the body it is called advanced bowel cancer.

Treatment decisions for rectal cancer

A team of doctors and other professionals discuss the best treatment and care for you. The main treatments are surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and chemoradiotherapy. 

Surgery for rectal cancer

The type of surgery you have for cancer of the back passage (rectum) depends on the position and stage of your cancer.  

Chemotherapy for rectal cancer

You might have chemotherapy on its own or with radiotherapy. Fluorouracil, capecitabine, oxaliplatin and irinotecan are drugs used for rectal cancer. 

Chemoradiotherapy for rectal cancer

Treatment with chemotherapy and radiotherapy together is called chemoradiotherapy. You might have this treatment for cancer of the back passage (rectal cancer). 

Radiotherapy for rectal cancer

Radiotherapy uses high energy waves similar to x-rays to kill bowel cancer cells. It is a treatment for cancer of the back passage (rectal cancer).

Treatment for advanced bowel cancer

Treatment for advanced bowel cancer can help to reduce symptoms, make you feel better and sometimes help you live longer. 

Research and clinical trials

All treatments must be fully researched before they can be adopted as standard treatment for everyone. Find out about research into bowel (colorectal) cancer, as well as how to take part in clinical trials.

Follow up

After treatment, you have regular check ups and tests at the hospital. The doctors check how you are and see whether you have any problems or worries.

Last reviewed: 
09 Feb 2022
Next review due: 
09 Feb 2025
Json LD: