Help us to stop bowel cancer

Preparing for surgery

Your healthcare team will give you information on what will happen during the operation and how you can prepare for it.

This information may include:

  • What to take into hospital with you
  • Which tests you will need, to check you’re well enough for surgery
  • What food and drink you can have before and after surgery
  • Whether you need to change your diet or use medicines to empty your bowel before surgery
  • How and when you will have antibiotics to prevent infection.

Tell your specialist nurse if you will need support at home after the operation. For example, if you live alone.

Many hospitals offer an ‘enhanced recovery programme’, which aims to speed up your recovery after surgery. If your hospital has this programme, your healthcare team will give you information on how you can make sure you are in the best possible health before the operation. You will be moving around soon after the surgery and you will be more involved in your own care. 

Your healthcare team will tell you if you are likely to need a stoma. They will explain why you may need a stoma and how long you may need to have it for. A stoma nurse will show you how to look after your stoma and can answer any questions you have.

More information

Beating Bowel Cancer has information on bowel cancer surgery, including suggestions for what to take into hospital with you.


Updated March 2016. Due for review March 2019