Tests after diagnosis of bowel cancer

After a diagnosis of bowel cancer, you will have tests to check if the cancer has spread to other parts of the bowel, lymph nodes and to other parts of the body, such as the liver and lungs. 

These tests are called staging the cancer – many people have curable cancers and the tests give your medical team your “prognosis”, your outlook, and the evidence they need to plan the best treatment for you. The tests also give an indication of whether you are likely to need any additional (adjuvant) treatment as well as surgery.

The best way to be cured of bowel cancer is to have the cancer completely removed or destroyed, usually by surgical means although, in a small number of cases, and increasingly this can be achieved by a combination of radiotherapy (x-ray/radiation treatment) and chemotherapy (treatment with drugs).

Sometimes chemo-radiotherapy is given as additional (adjuvant) treatment either before or after a surgical operation to increase the chances of removing all of your cancer.

The tests - and discussions between the medical and surgical team at multi-disciplinary meetings - can take time but this is worth it to make sure the best combination of treatments are chosen to give the best chance of cure.

Every effort will be made to plan the simplest, safest treatment schedule and any short delays at this stage will not have any adverse effects.

As far as possible the team should involve you, the patient, and your family in all the decision making.
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