Nurse in the endoscopy unit

Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

This April marks bowel cancer awareness month. Here we highlight some of our work in this area and some of our amazing patients.

Bowel cancer is also know as colorectal cancer is cancer that begins in the large bowel (colon) or back passage (rectum). There are over 34,000 new cases of bowel cancer in the UK each year. It is the fourth most common cancer in the UK.

The Royal Marsden offers screening to detect for early diagnosis of bowel cancer and robotic surgery as treatment. This is the largest and most comprehensive programme of robotic surgery for cancer in the UK. The pioneering da Vinci robotic technology was funded by our generous charity supporters.

russell on bus

Russell's Early Diagnosis

Russell was just 17 when his Dad died after being diagnosed with bowel cancer. By then he’d already lost his Grandfather to bowel cancer, and Great Uncles and Great Grandfather to cancer. Given the history of cancer in his family his GP referred him for checks at The Royal Marsden.

18 years after Russell’s Dad’s death, new tests on the tumour revealed he had Lynch syndrome, an inherited condition which causes an increased risk of certain cancers including colorectal cancers. Russell was tested and found to also have lynch syndrome. He immediately went onto a more regular bowel screening programme, coming in to The Royal Marsden every 18-months for a colonoscopy. This is a procedure which examines the large bowel, trying to detect small growths (polyps) on the bowel wall. If seen they can be removed and tested.

In August 2018, one colonoscopy showed Russell had a number of polyps. Biopsies of the growths revealed at least two were cancerous – and he was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Left untreated he was told the cancer would advance very quickly within the year. After further investigation he underwent keyhole surgery in October 2018 to remove part of the bowel.

Russell has recovered well – he still has lynch syndrome and will still be coming back for regular screening, but has a much lessened chance of developing cancer in the bowel.

Sadly, in losing my father I saved my life; finding out about the inherited condition meant I went onto the screening programme and was able to catch this early. My experience at The Royal Marsden restored my faith in humanity.


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