Bowel cancer surgery, colostomy and ileostomy
Spire Parkway Hospital has been accredited as a BUPA approved Bowel Cancer Unit. Our consultants & specialist nurses care for patients with bowel cancer and other diseases of the bowel.
Surgery may be necessary to treat bowel cancer. The aim of surgery is to remove the area of bowel affected by cancer and usually a small margin of healthy tissue on all sides, to ensure all the cancer cells are removed.
Lymph nodes near the bowel are usually removed as well. These are small bean-shaped organs that are part of the immune system. These are taken out because cancer tends to spread to the lymph nodes. Analysis of the nodes under the microscope enables us to ensure that the cancer has been completely removed; if there is evidence of spread to lymph glands, then chemotherapy may be recommended once you have recovered from surgery.
Your surgeon will explain the benefits and risks of having bowel surgery, and will discuss any alternatives to the procedure.
About the operation
The colon can be considered as a long tube. Bowel surgery usually involves removing the section of tube affected by cancer or other disease and joining the two healthy ends together with stitches or staples. The operation can be undertaken by use of keyhole surgery [laparoscopic technique], or by conventional, open surgery that requires a larger incision on the abdomen.
Colostomies and ileostomies
If the two ends of the bowel cannot be re-joined, you may need a colostomy or ileostomy. This is when one end of the bowel is brought through an opening in the skin (called a stoma). Waste can then pass from the intestine into a self-adhesive appliance [or bag]. The bag is worn over the stoma and lies against the abdomen. Colostomies and ileostomies may be temporary, allowing the bowel time to heal after an operation. Once healed, the stoma may be reversed. However, in some cases a permanent colostomy or ileostomy may be necessary.
Your surgeon will discuss colostomies, ileostomies and stomas with you before the operation. Sometimes it isn’t possible for your surgeon to tell exactly what is needed until the operation is under way. Major intestinal surgery is commonly performed and generally safe; however, all surgery carries an element of risk and your surgeon will explain the specific risks of the bowel surgery with you.