About advanced bowel cancer
What is advanced bowel cancer?
Advanced bowel cancer is when cancer has spread from the bowel to other organs in the body. You may also hear it being called secondary, metastatic or stage 4 bowel cancer. Bowel cancer can spread when parts of the tumour break away from the bowel and travel to another part of the body. The tumour in the bowel is called the primary tumour. The tumour that is in a different part of the body is called a secondary tumour, or metastasis. The most common places for bowel cancer to spread are:
- the liver
- the lungs
- the peritoneum (a thin layer of tissue that covers the organs in your tummy (abdomen)).
In rarer cases it can also spread to other parts of the body, such as the bones, ovaries and brain. Even though the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, it is still bowel cancer and the cells are still bowel cancer cells.
Locally advanced bowel cancer
Some people may have locally advanced bowel cancer. This is when cancer has spread into tissues next to the bowel, such as the bladder or nearby lymph nodes. You may also hear it being called stage 3 bowel cancer. This is different to advanced bowel cancer. Healthcare professionals may mean slightly different things when they use advanced and locally advanced bowel cancer. If you aren't sure, ask your healthcare team to explain what they mean.
Read more about the staging of bowel cancer.