Beating bowel cancer together

Bowel cancer that has spread to the peritoneum

When bowel cancer spreads to the peritoneum it is called peritoneal metastasis. The peritoneum is a thin layer of tissue that lines the inside of the tummy, including your stomach, liver and bowel.

Bowel cancer tumours can form on the peritoneum and sometimes on the surface of the organs that the peritoneum covers.

A team of experts will help decide the best treatment for you. They may be in a different hospital and it may take a few weeks to provide an opinion.

Treatment for bowel cancer that has spread to the peritoneum could include:



Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. Your healthcare team may offer you chemotherapy to shrink the cancer. You may have one chemotherapy drug or a combination of two or three drugs. If your cancer comes back after treatment, you may be able to have chemotherapy again.

Read more information on chemotherapy drugs and their side effects

Targeted therapy

A targeted therapy helps your body control the way cancer cells grow. There are different types of targeted treatment that destroy cancer in different ways. You may also hear it being called biological therapy.

Targeted therapy can be used on its own or with chemotherapy.

Targeted therapies don’t work for everyone. Your healthcare team might offer you a test to help find out if there are any targeted therapies that could work for you. This is called a biomarker test. The test could be a blood test or a test on a sample of your tumour from a biopsy.

Read more information about targeted therapy.

Peritoneal surgery

Some patients might be able to have surgery to remove all visible tumours from the peritoneum. This is called cytoreductive surgery. If there are tumours on the surface of other organs in your tummy (abdomen), you may have parts of these organs removed too.

The surgeon usually makes one opening in your tummy to remove the cancer. It can take around eight to ten hours but sometimes takes longer. Some patients might be able to have keyhole surgery, but this is rare.

Other peritoneal treatments

Pressurised intraperitoneal aerosolised chemotherapy (PIPAC)

New research is looking into a potential treatment called PIPAC. This means that this treatment is only available to some patients through clinical trials. Not everyone can have PIPAC. Speak to your healthcare team if you are interested in taking part in a clinical trial.

PIPAC is a specialised type of chemotherapy. It is given directly into a patient’s tummy (abdomen) during surgery. It is used to try and shrink the tumours in the peritoneum as much as possible.

More support

Did you know that our online community has a section for people affected by advanced bowel cancer? It’s a welcoming place for everyone affected by advanced bowel cancer to ask questions, read about people’s experiences and support each other.


Emotional wellbeing support

Back to ‘Treating advanced bowel cancer’

Back to ‘Advanced bowel cancer’

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