What Is Bowel Cancer?
The bowel is part of digestive system. It is made up of small bowel (small intestine) and the large bowel (colon and rectum). It is responsible for digestion and absorption of nutrients from food. Laparoscopic (key-hole) surgery is a minimally invasive technique that works both for the diagnosis and treatment of bowel cancer.
Bowel Cancer Common Signs and Symptoms
Due to the location of this type of cancer, it’s signs and symptoms can be hard to associate with this particular cancer. However, there are some symptoms associated with this condition, including:
- Abdominal pain /mass
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Blood in the stools.
- Bowel habit change (Diarrhea or constipation)
- Weakness or fatigue.
- Unexplained weight loss.
Bowel Cancer Common Causes
The main cause of bowel cancer remains unknown until now. However, doctors have established that this type of cancer occurs when some healthy cells in the bowel develop errors or mutations in their genetical information. There are some risk factors related to these changes, including:
- Inherited syndromes like Lynch syndrome, familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) and Peutz-Jeghers syndrome.
- Inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease, and Ulcerative colitis.
- Immunodeficiency diseases like HIV and immunosuppressants drugs, such as steroids.
Bowel Cancer Treatment
In general, the treatment of bowel cancer depends on its stage when discovered and on your health status. There are several treatment options to be used and combined, but surgery is one of the most important approaches to treat this condition.
Bowel cancer surgery can be performed either laparoscopically or as open surgery. The laparoscopic technique has notable benefits over open surgery in almost all bowel cancer cases. Some of these benefits include minimal invasion, faster recovery time, less pain, less risk of wound infection and better esthetical results.
Laparoscopic bowel cancer surgery involves the following steps:
- After receiving general anesthesia to ensure you don’t feel any pain or discomfort during the procedure, the doctor will make some small incisions – 3 to 5 – in your abdomen.
- A special medical device called a laparoscope, which is a thin tube with a tiny video camera, and some other surgical tools will be inserted through the small incisions.
- Your abdomen will be filled with some medical gas, in order to have a better view of your bowel.
- Your doctor will detect the affected area in your bowel and will remove it. Then, the remaining ends of your bowel will be sutured or stapled; a procedure known as anastomosis.
The entire procedure usually takes about 2-4 hours and you will be closely monitored all the time.
Since bowel cancer surgery is major surgery, you need to stay at the hospital for at least 3-5 days after your procedure. With laparoscopic (key-hole) surgery, patients follow enhanced recovery pathway (ERP) which means straight after surgery, patients are allowed to drink and eat and mobilize as early as first 24 hours. This helps to mobilize the gut at much faster rate and helps in early discharge.
You might require additional treatment options for your bowel cancer to make sure all cancer cells are eliminated from your body depending on stage and grading of cancer. Some of these options include chemotherapy and radiotherapy.