Bowel cancer, sometimes called colorectal cancer, can occur in any part of the large bowel (colon or rectum).
In its early stages bowel cancer often has no symptoms. However, some people may experience:
- A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhoea, constipations, or smaller, more frequent bowel movements
- A feeling of fullness or bloating in the bowel or rectum
- A feeling that the bowel hasn't emptied completely after a bowel movement
- Blood in the stools or on the toilet paper
Because it often has no symptoms, screening for this disease is important and encouraged to begin regularly from age 50. However, if either of the following risk factors are prevalent, you should talk to your doctor about earlier or more frequent screening. These factors include:
- Personal or family history of bowel cancer
- History of polyps in the colon, as result of ulcerative colitis or Crohn's Disease
Radiation Therapy for Bowel Cancer
Surgery is often the primary treatment for bowel cancer. However, depending on the location, size and stage of your cancer combined treatment with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy may be recommended:
- Before surgery (called preoperative or neoadjuvant therapy) to help shrink the cancer, making it smaller and easier to remove at the time of surgery, or
- After surgery (called postoperative or adjuvant therapy) to treat any potential microscopic disease that may remain.
The radiation therapy is usually delivered on a daily basis for 5-15 minutes, over a 4-6 week course of treatment. The delivery of this treatment is routinely performed using External Beam Radiotherapy or Volumetric Arc Radiotherapy (VMAT).