Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Colon resection for colon cancer

3-minute read

What is colon cancer?

Colon cancer is a malignant growth that starts in the wall of your colon (large bowel).

A colon resection involves removing the cancer along with part of your colon either side of it.

What are the benefits of surgery?

The aim is to remove the cancer along with part of your colon either side of it.

Are there any alternatives to a colon resection?

Chemotherapy or biological therapy will not lead to you being cured but can shrink the cancer.

It is possible to have procedures to ease any blockage of your bowel without treating the underlying cancer. These include forming a stoma (your bowel opening onto your skin) or inserting a stent (metal mesh tube) across the cancer to hold your colon open.

What does the operation involve?

The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic and usually takes about 90 minutes.

Your surgeon will remove the cancer along with part of your colon either side of it. Your surgeon will remove lymph nodes (glands) close to where the cancer was to find out if there are any cancer cells in them.

Your surgeon will usually join the ends of your bowel back together inside your abdomen. Sometimes, for safety reasons, they will make a stoma.

Your doctor can mark where the cancer is.

What complications can happen?

General complications of any operation

  • bleeding during or after the operation
  • infection of the surgical site
  • allergic reaction to the equipment, materials or medication
  • acute kidney injury
  • developing a hernia in the scar
  • blood clot in your leg
  • blood clot in your lung
  • chest infection
  • difficulty passing urine

Specific complications of this operation

Keyhole surgery complications

  • damage to structures such as your bowel, bladder or blood vessels
  • developing a hernia near one of the cuts used to insert the ports
  • surgical emphysema
  • gas embolism

Colon resection complications

  • anastomotic leak
  • continued bowel paralysis
  • damage to other structures inside your abdomen
  • tissues can join together in an abnormal way
  • compartment syndrome causing pain and damage to your legs
  • death

Consequences of this procedure

  • pain
  • unsightly scarring of your skin

How soon will I recover?

Getting out of bed and walking is an important part of your recovery. You may also be given breathing or other exercises to do.

If you have a temporary or permanent stoma, you will need to learn how to change the bag and care for your stoma.

You should be able to go home after 2 to 7 days.

It may take up to 3 months for you to recover fully.

Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.

The tissue and lymph nodes that your surgeon removed will usually be examined under a microscope. If cancer cells were found in some of your lymph nodes which were removed, you may need more treatment (chemotherapy).


Removing the cancer by surgery gives you the best chance of being free of colon cancer.


The operation and treatment information on this page is published under license by Healthdirect Australia from EIDO Healthcare Australia and is protected by copyright laws. Other than for your personal, non-commercial use, you may not copy, print out, download or otherwise reproduce any of the information. The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you. Medical Illustration Copyright ©

For more on how this information was prepared, click here.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: September 2022

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Rare Cancers Australia - Colon Cancer

Cancer that forms in the tissues of the colon (the longest part of the large intestine). Most colon cancers are adenocarcinomas (cancers that begin in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids).

Read more on Rare Cancers Australia website

Lower Gastrointestinal | Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

Lower gastrointestinal (also called colorectal, bowel or colon) cancer happens in the large intestine of the digestive system.

Read more on Peter Mac - Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre website

Treatment for early bowel cancer - Cancer Council Victoria

The most common treatment is surgery. You may also have chemotherapy, targeted therapies and radiotherapy, which will be coordinated by your oncologist.

Read more on Cancer Council Victoria website

Microsatellite instability (MSI) | Pathology Tests Explained

Genes which repair mutations in DNA are known as mismatch repair genes. There are four different mismatch repair genes which are responsible for correcting m

Read more on Pathology Tests Explained website

Bowel cancer | Cancer Institute NSW

Bowel cancers start in the bowel or intestines

Read more on Cancer Institute NSW website

Colon polyps (bowel polyps) -

Colon (bowel) polyps are small growths of tissue from the wall of the large bowel or colon. Polyps usually don't cause symptoms, but are normally removed so they don't cause cancer.

Read more on myDr website

Colonoscopy: examination of the colon -

A colonoscopy is an examination of the colon (large bowel), using a colonoscope a long, thin, flexible tube containing a camera and a light.

Read more on myDr website

Appendix cancer | Cancer Council

Find out more about appendix cancer - a rare cancer that occurs when cells in the appendix become abnormal and form a mass or lump called a tumour

Read more on Cancer Council Australia website

Exercise to Prevent Cancer - Cancer Council Victoria

Up to one hour of moderate activity daily or 30 minutes of vigorous activity is recommended to cut your cancer risk. Evidence links physical activity to reduced breast and colon cancer risk.

Read more on Cancer Council Victoria website

Colostomy after bowel cancer treatment: Personal experience | myVMC

After bowel cancer treatment, Amber must live with a colostomy bag to remove excrement from her colon. This is her experience.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Victorian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.