If bowel cancer returns

For some people, bowel cancer does come back after treatment, which is known as a recurrence or relapse. This is why it is important to have regular check-ups. If the cancer is confined to the bowel and nearby lymph nodes, it may be possible to surgically remove it. Removing the tumour can help relieve symptoms and, in some cases, may stop the cancer.

If bowel cancer has spread beyond the bowel (metastatic bowel cancer), you may be offered treatment, such as surgery, chemotherapy, targeted therapies or radiation therapy, to help control or slow the growth of the cancer. Sometimes small secondary cancers on the liver or lungs can be removed.

With advanced bowel cancer, the bowel may become blocked as the tumour grows. This is called a bowel obstruction. It can cause serious complications and needs prompt treatment. 

You can speak to a qualified health professional at Cancer Council 13 11 20 for more information about bowel cancer that has returned.

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This information was last reviewed in February 2017
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