Colorectal (Bowel) Cancer Services

If you have suspected cancer of your colon, also known as your large bowel, you will be referred to our specialist colorectal cancer team of doctors and nurses.

Your GP or nurse will have referred you on a rapid access pathway called a 2 week wait referral. This is an urgent referral pathway to exclude bowel cancer. Some patients who come through the bowel screening service will go directly to have a colonoscopy.

It is important to remember that bowel symptoms can be caused by conditions other than cancer, but the 2 week wait referral is designed to exclude or confirm of bowel cancer.

Initially, you will be offered a telephone appointment with a doctor or a nurse. Depending on this consultation you may be booked for further investigations, often these include a colonoscopy and sometimes a CT scan. If you need a different type of test this will be explained to you. Please try and attend appointments when they are offered so that we can get the fastest outcome for you. We will always try and book appointments and investigations at your local hospital, but this may not always be possible when booking urgent tests. You will be contacted by telephone, so please check messages and missed calls, and importantly, that we have the right contact information for you.

If you have a colonoscopy which suggests you have bowel cancer this will be explained to you following the procedure. You may meet a specialist nurse at this point, but if not we aim to contact you within 2 working days to introduce the specialist cancer nursing service and explain the next steps and answer any initial concerns and questions, but you can also contact us via the Cancer Care Line number on this page.

Your case will be discussed by your colorectal team in their weekly meeting (referred to as the MDM, or multidisciplinary meeting) which is attended by staff from all the specialities that may need to be involved in your care. The Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother team meeting is held on a Wednesday and the William Harvey team meeting is held on a Thursday. A copy of the plan of care goes to your GP the next working day. We will then arrange to see you in clinic, or a further telephone appointment will be arranged.

Please remember the specialist colorectal cancer team is here to support you throughout.

Often patients who do have bowel cancer need surgery which is usually undertaken at QEQM or WHH. Chemotherapy, if it is needed, is undertaken at all three main hospital sites. There is also the possibility for some patients to have chemotherapy in the mobile chemotherapy unit. A small number of patients need radiotherapy and this is undertaken only at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital.

You may find the following links useful

NHS advice 

Bowel Cancer UK

Macmillan Cancer Support 

Cancer research UK

The Cancer Care Line

 Contact The Cancer Care Line:  01227 868666

 (Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm, Saturday and Sunday 8am - 4pm)

This is a central helpline for all patients who have come into contact with a Macmillan Clinical Nurse Specialist or the Macmillan Acute Oncology Team. Not all people that are given this number have cancer, some maybe undergoing investigations to rule it out.

The people that answer your calls are not medically trained and in order for them to direct you to correct person/ team, they will ask for some clinical and personal information.

The Macmillan Clinical Nurse Specialists run designated phone clinics, therefore if appropriate you will be booked onto the next available telephone clinic which may not be the same day.

If the Cancer Care Line Co-ordinator's triage indicates you require urgent clinical advice, you will be put through to the specialist nurse of the day.