Your health care team

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
    care team
  • 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

This information was last reviewed in February 2017
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