Your general practitioner (GP) will arrange the first tests to assess your symptoms, or further tests if you have had a positive screening test . You will usually be referred to a specialist, such as a colorectal surgeon or a gastroenterologist.
The specialist will arrange further tests.
Once your treatment for bowel cancer begins, you will be cared for by a range of health professionals who specialise in different areas of your treatment. This is called a multidisciplinary team (MDT) and it may include some or all of the health professionals listed below.
The different roles
The health professionals involved in your treatment will take a team-based approach and form a multidisciplinary team (MDT). The following health professionals may be in your MDT.
- GP – explains information provided by specialists; assists you with treatment decisions; helps you obtain practical and emotional support; and works in partnership with your specialists in providing your ongoing care
- Colorectal surgeon – diagnoses bowel cancer and operates on the bowel
- Gastroenterologist – diagnoses bowel cancer and specialises in diseases of the digestive system
- Medical oncologist – prescribes and coordinates the course of chemotherapy
- Radiation oncologist – prescribes and coordinates the course of radiation therapy
- Cancer care coordinator or clinical nurse consultant (CNC) – supports you and your family throughout treatment and liaises with other members of your health
- Operating room staff – include anaesthetists, technicians and nurses who prepare you for surgery and care for you during the operation and recovery
- Nurses – care for you during and after surgery; administer drugs; and provide care, information and support throughout your treatment
- Stomal therapy nurse (STN) – provides information about surgery and adjusting to life with a temporary or permanent stoma
- Dietitian – recommends an eating plan to follow while you are in treatment and recovery
- Genetic counsellor – provides advice for people with a strong family history of bowel cancer or with a genetic condition linked to bowel cancer
- Social worker – links you to support services and helps you with emotional or practical issues
- Counsellor, psychologist – provide emotional support and help manage any feelings of depression and anxiety
- Physiotherapist, occupational therapist – assist with physical and practical problems, including restoring range of movement after surgery