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Just diagnosed with bowel cancer

If a diagnosis of bowel cancer is confirmed, further testing is usually carried out for two reasons:

  • to check if the cancer has spread from the bowel to other parts of the body
  • to help decide on the most effective treatment for you.

These tests may include different types of scans, X-rays and blood tests.

Once the examinations and tests have been completed, it should be possible to determine the stage and grade of your cancer. Staging refers to how far your cancer has advanced. Grading relates to how aggressive and likely to spread your cancer is.

If the cancer is at a very early stage, it may be possible to remove just a small piece of the lining of the colon wall. This is known as 'local excision'.

If the cancer has spread into muscles surrounding the colon, it may be necessary to remove an entire section of your colon. Removing some of the colon is known as a 'colectomy'.

Different people deal with serious problems in different ways. It is hard to predict how knowing you have cancer will affect you. However, you and your loved ones may find it helpful to know about the feelings that people diagnosed with cancer have reported.

Visit the Bowel Cancer Australia website for information about resources, peer-to-peer support and other services for people affected by bowel cancer.

Last reviewed: August 2016

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