Bowel (colorectal) cancer is the third most common cancer in Scotland and the United Kingdom (after breast and lung cancer) with around 100 new cases diagnosed each day in the UK. In Scotland 3.8% of males develop bowel cancer and 2.6% of females by the age of 74. Survival rates have improved from five year survival rates of 22% to 50% over the last 10 years in the UK. Studies showing that screening with faecal occult blood testing can result in a 16% reduction in deaths from bowel cancer prompted the Scottish Executive Health Department to roll-out a national bowel cancer screening programme in 2007.
The staff of the Institute have extensive experience in dealing with all aspects of elective and emergency bowel cancer surgery; close postoperative out-patient follow-up of patients undergoing colorectal surgical treatment; screening and surveillance techniques for bowel cancer patients and their family members where appropriate; and assessment of high-risk individuals and family groups in close conjunction with clinical genetics colleagues.
Bowel cancer patients are discussed at regular multidisciplinary team meetings and cases requiring pre- or postoperative treatment with radio- or chemotherapy are referred to dedicated oncology specialists.
Bowel cancer is often curable and cure is more likely if the cancer is treated at an early stage. It is very important that patients report unusual bowel symptoms promptly and that these are properly investigated. Symptoms of rectal bleeding, altered bowel habit and low blood count (anaemia) should always be assessed.