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Colorectal or bowel cancer is diagnosed in more than 40,000 people in the UK every year, making up 12% of all cases of cancer. Finding out that you have cancer is stressful, but The London Clinic can offer expert treatment, sensitive support and a comfortable, calm environment in which to recuperate.

Early diagnosis and swift, effective management by specialists offer the best chance of curing cancer. The London Clinic’s world-renowned surgeons and oncologists work together with a highly-trained, multidisciplinary team. There are colorectal clinical nurse specialists who see all newly-diagnosed cancer patients and provide information, guidance and help throughout your treatment and your recovery.

What is colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer develops when cells in the bowel tissue begin to divide and grow abnormally. These cells can proliferate and form tumours. When these become malignant or cancerous, they can spread beyond the bowel to other parts of the body.

Colorectal cancer can also be called colon cancer or rectal cancer depending on the part of the bowel it originates from. Colon cancer starts in the large bowel, which is the part of your digestive system that forms stools and helps to absorb food and liquid. Rectal cancer arises from the rectum or back passage, the lower part of your bowel where faeces is stored.

Who is at risk of colorectal cancer?

The risk of getting any cancer is linked to your age, your genetic background and your lifestyle. Colorectal cancer is common and all people could potentially develop the condition, but some people are at increased risk:

Age: Older people are more likely to develop colorectal cancer, with the highest rates occurring in people in their eighties.
Family history: Bowel cancer is more common in anyone who has a close relative with the disease, particularly if they were diagnosed before fifty.

Polyps: People with large numbers of these benign growths are more likely to develop cancer.

Inflammatory bowel disease: People with chronic bowel inflammation from ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease are at increased risk.

Lifestyle: The way you live can affect the chance of getting cancer. Smoking, drinking, obesity and eating a diet with low fibre content or high levels of red and processed meat can increase your colorectal cancer risk.

If you are worried about your bowel health, The London Clinic offers screening tests for colorectal cancer. Research has found that people who have a routine flexible sigmoidoscopy between the ages of 55 and 64 will reduce their chances of being diagnosed with advanced bowel cancer by around one third.

Signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer

The symptoms of colorectal cancer can be subtle and easy to miss, particularly in the early stages of the disease. Look out for:

  • Bleeding from your back passage or blood in your stools.
  • A change from your normal bowel habit, the stools may be looser or there may be new constipation.
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Weight loss.
  • Tiredness.
  • Abdominal pain, which may get worse with meals.
  • Bloating.
  • A lump or swelling in your tummy.

Early diagnosis of colorectal cancer is associated with better results. See your GP or contact The London Clinic for screening tests, if you have notice any unusual symptoms.

Colorectal cancer specialists at The London Clinic

The London Clinic’s priority is to provide our patients with support, comfort and access to the best and most up-to-date cancer care.

The London Clinic has a team of consultant colorectal surgeons, who are experts in the diagnosis and the surgical management of bowel cancers.

A cancer diagnosis can be devastating. Our specialists work with multi-disciplinary teams to maintain your physical health and your emotional wellbeing. They are dedicated to answering all your questions and supporting you and your family, through every step of your cancer journey. Your treatment is planned at a multidisciplinary team meeting.

Investigations and tests at The London Clinic

The London Clinic offers a range of investigations to detect colorectal cancer in a private, comfortable and stress-free environment. With high-tech imaging, a dedicated endoscopy suite and expert pathologists, we are able to accurately diagnose and stage colorectal tumours, to ensure you get the best possible treatment.

Colonoscopy: Colonoscopy is an examination of the full length of the inside of the bowel using a flexible camera. It is the gold-standard test for bowel cancer and is performed by experts in The London Clinic’s purpose-built endoscopy suite.

Pelvic MRI Scan: The London Clinic has a state of the art imaging department with experienced consultant radiologists to perform the tests and interpret the results.

Trans-rectal ultrasound scan: An ultrasound using a probe inserted through the anus is sometimes used to get better images of the cancer.

Carcinoembryonic antigen or CEA: This blood test checks for a tumour marker, which is made by the body when cancer is present. However, raised levels can be caused by other cancers, smoking and bowel inflammation.

Treatments for colorectal cancer at The London Clinic

The right treatment will depend on the size, stage and location of your tumour. Your consultant may order some investigations to gather more information. They will then discuss the potential options with you and develop a personalised treatment plan, always considering your feelings and your health in general.

Surgery is usually the first line of treatment but you may need further therapy to prevent the cancer spreading or recurring.


Operations to treat colorectal cancer aim to remove the tumour, often together with part of the colon or rectum. The extent of the surgery will depend on your cancer. Sometimes, a bowel opening or stoma is made in the abdomen. This drains waste from the body into a bag, allowing the bowel to rest and heal. The stoma is often temporary. It can be reversed in a minor operation two to three months after the initial surgery. However, if the whole of the rectum needs to be removed, the colostomy has to be permanent.

The London Clinic has clinical nurse specialists who will support you after your surgery and help you learn to manage your stoma and adapt to any change in your bowel habit following the operation. The London Clinic also has a complementary therapy counselling service and extensive physiotherapy service.


Different combinations of chemotherapy can be given by mouth or intravenous injection. The drugs kill remaining cancer cells and reduce the risk of the cancer coming back. The London Clinic has 22 outpatient pods, so that patients coming in for the day can receive treatment in comfort and privacy.


High-energy X-ray radiation is directed at the area of the tumour to destroy any remaining cancer cells and stop them from spreading. The Duchess of Devonshire Wing has a dedicated radiotherapy suite with the latest image-guided, volumetric arc and intensity-modulated radiotherapy, to increase the accuracy of treatment and reduce complications.

Why choose The London Clinic?

The London Clinic is dedicated to providing the best, personalised healthcare with over 600 world-renowned consultants available to offer informed health advice and treatment.

Spanning Harley Street and Devonshire Place, The London Clinic is situated in the heart of London’s internationally-known medical district. This central location, together with state-of-the art technologies and facilities that are not widely available in other hospitals, makes The London Clinic the hospital of choice for around 120,000 patients every year.

The London Clinic is an HTA licensed and JACIE accredited cancer centre with an ‘Excellent’ MacMillan Quality Environment Mark and with access to a Level 3 intensive care unit.

Offering affordable and competitive self-pay packages and expert support from Clinical Nurse Specialists and our specialised multidisciplinary team, over 98% of our patients said they would recommend The London Clinic to their friends and families.

Treatment cost

The London Clinic offers affordable, competitive self-pay packages for certain treatments.

Please call +44 (0)20 3613 7502 to speak to our helpful team to find out more and to book an appointment.

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