Advanced bowel cancer
Advanced bowel (colorectal) cancer is cancer of the colon or rectum that has spread to other parts of the body. You may hear this being called secondary or metastatic cancer.
If you have stage 4 colon or rectal cancer that has spread to other parts of the body such as the liver or lungs, there may be different treatment options or combinations of treatment available to you. Treatment is usually palliative, which means it relieves symptoms but cannot cure the cancer. Palliative treatments, such as chemotherapy and biological therapies, can keep the cancer under control, improve your quality of life and help you live longer.
In some people whose cancer has only spread to either the liver or lungs, surgery and chemotherapy can keep the cancer under control for a long time and could possibly cure it. You may also be able to have other types of treatment such as targeted therapy, which helps your body control the way cancer cells grow.
If you have been diagnosed with advanced bowel cancer, your cancer specialist may offer you biomarker testing to help find out which treatments would work best for you.
Your healthcare team will talk to you about which treatments you can have and how they may help you.
Find out more about the work we're doing to improve treatment and care for people with advanced bowel cancer.
Updated August 2018