Beating bowel cancer together

The medical team

Your first appointment at the hospital is likely to be with a colorectal surgeon and a specialist colorectal nurse. They are part of a bigger team of relevant healthcare professionals that look after different areas of your treatment and care, called a multi-disciplinary team (MDT). They will usually meet every week.

Your consultant or specialist nurse will discuss these meetings with you. They will make sure your wishes are taken into account and that you fully understand any treatment decisions that are suggested.  

Typically, your multi-disciplinary team will involve the following staff:

  • Colorectal Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS): a nurse with specialist qualifications to manage and care for patients with bowel cancer. Nurse consultants or nurse practitioners have additional qualifications at a very advanced level. This nurse is usually your key worker, the first point of contact if you have any queries or concerns.
  • Colorectal Surgeons: a doctor with specialist training in bowel surgery. Other specialist surgeons might be involved if your cancer has spread to other parts of your body, for example to your liver or lungs.
  • Consultant Medical and Clinical Oncologists: doctors with expertise in treating cancer patients with chemotherapy and other specialised drugs. They often work together and might be supported by specialist registrars and (senior) house officers. Clinical oncologists can also give radiotherapy treatment. 
  • Specialist Registrars – qualified doctors who are gaining more experience and developing their skills within a specialist area.
  • Foundation doctors (house officer) or core trainees (senior house officer):
    qualified doctors who have not yet specialised

  • Diagnostic Radiologists: doctors with expertise in X-rays and other specialised screening machines (for example, ultrasound, CT, PET and MRI). They use scans to locate and measure where a cancer is in the body.
  • Histopathologists: a specialist doctor who uses laboratory equipment to look at patient tissue and confirm a diagnosis. 
  • Stoma Nurse Specialists: a nurse with specialist training to care for patients with a temporary or permanent stoma.


In addition, these healthcare professionals can offer support in the hospital or in the community:

  • Oncology Nurse Specialists: nurses with additional qualifications in the care and management of people needing chemotherapy.
  • Research Nurses: a nurse who helps recruit, manage and support patients who are taking part in a clinical trial.
  • Dieticians and Nutritionists: professionals who support you if you have problems with eating and/or drinking, or if you need help with managing your weight.
  • Gastroenterologists: doctors who specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders and diseases of the digestive system.
  • Occupational Therapists: a professional trained to help you regain independence and cope with home or work life after surgery or other treatment.
  • Palliative Care Specialists: doctors or nurses with extra training and experience to support patients (and their families) with very advanced cancer to improve quality of life.
  • Pharmacists: specialists who can support and advise about the medicines being used to treat cancer and their possible side effects..
  • Physiotherapists: professionals trained to help you regain strength, movement and balance after surgery.
  • Clinical Psychologist: professionals trained to treat and support you if you are having trouble coping with emotional or behavioural 
  • Psychiatrist: doctors trained to treat and support you if you have problems coping with psychological or emotional issues.
  • Therapeutic Radiographers: plan and deliver radiotherapy treatment and provide medical and emotional support during the treatment.
  • Counsellors: professional who uses non-medical therapies and techniques to support people to deal with emotional issues and problems.

We’ve suggested some questions you might like to ask when meeting your medical team.

 Download our Your pathway booklet

Reviewed June 2019

Back to 'Bowel cancer diagnosis'  Go to 'Staging and grading'

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