During the surgical procedure the piece of bowel that contains the cancer is removed and the two open ends are joined together. In addition the lymph nodes which sit near the colon and rectum may also be removed as this is usually the first place to which the cancer may spread.
After open surgery you will have a wound (incision) that goes in a straight line from just below the breastbone for a variable length down to the pelvis. However, this scar will heal and fade over time. You can expect to be in hospital for an average of 8-10 days
Minimally invasive surgery (Laparoscopic or keyhole surgery) is offered much more widely now across Europe with the majority of European countries being able to offer this procedure. However not all patients will fit the criteria for this type of surgery and it is best to discuss this with your doctor. The advantage of laparoscopic/keyhole surgery is that it is less invasive than open surgery and therefore has a shorter recovery time.
In some cases people will require chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy to shrink the size of the tumour prior to surgery. In rare cases surgery may not be an option and chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy for rectal cancers will be offered to slow down the progression of the disease and help reduce the symptoms.