Treatment for early bowel cancer
Treatment for early and locally advanced bowel cancer will depend on the type of bowel cancer you have. This is because colon cancer and rectal cancer are treated differently.
Your medical team will recommend treatment based on:
- what will give you the best outcome
- where the cancer is in the bowel
- whether and how the cancer has spread
- your general health
- your preferences.
The treatment options you are offered will depend on the guidelines for best practice in treating bowel cancer. For some people, the best option may be to join a clinical trial.
Learn more about treatment options for advanced bowel cancer.
Learn more about:
- Treatment options by type of bowel cancer
- Preparing for treatment
- Making treatment decisions
- Radiation therapy
Many people with bowel cancer have anaemia or low iron levels. You may be given iron as tablets or intravenously to improve your iron levels and blood count before treatment begins.
Improve diet and nutrition
People with bowel cancer often lose a lot of weight and may become malnourished. A dietitian can provide advice on ways to reduce the weight loss through changes to your diet or liquid nutritional supplements. This will help improve your strength and lead to better treatment outcomes.
Download a PDF booklet on this topic.
A/Prof Craig Lynch, Colorectal Surgeon, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Prof Tim Price, Medical Oncologist, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Adelaide, and Clinical Professor, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Adelaide, SA; Department of Dietetics, Liverpool Hospital, NSW; Dr Hooi Ee, Gastroenterologist, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, WA; Dr Debra Furniss, Radiation Oncologist, Genesis CancerCare, QLD; Jocelyn Head, Consumer; Jackie Johnston, Palliative Care and Stomal Therapy Clinical Nurse Consultant, St Vincent’s Private Hospital, NSW; Zeinah Keen, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council NSW; Dr Elizabeth Murphy, Head, Colorectal Surgical Unit, Lyell McEwin Hospital, SA. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.