Consultant surgeon

Bowel cancer

Bowel symptoms are common but, fortunately, most will be short lived and will not cause much concern. If symptoms persist a visit to your general practitioner is often enough to allay any anxieties. Sometimes, however, your doctor may be sufficiently concerned to recommend further tests. Under these circumstances, your GP is likely to refer you to a bowel specialist. If your doctor believes a diagnosis of bowel cancer needs to be excluded, you will be referred to a specialist surgeon such as myself.. There are a number of symptoms that will lead to such an urgent referral. These include an increased frequency or looseness to the bowels persistent for at least 6 weeks, bleeding from the bowel that cannot be attributed to piles and anaemia due to an iron deficiency (where slow and unnoticed bleeding into the bowel may be the cause). If a lump is found on examination, this would also generate an urgent referral.

When I see you, you will be given time during the consultation to discuss your symptoms and a full explanation detailing further investigation or treatment will be provided.

The most accurate bowel investigation is a colonoscopy. Utilising modern digital and fibreoptic technology, a narrow, flexible endoscope (camera) is passed through the anus and steered around the large bowel (colon and rectum). Drugs are given to provide a degree of sedation and to allay any discomfort. A magnified image of the interior allows biopsies to be taken and polyps can be removed.

If a diagnosis of bowel cancer is made, further tests will determine what treatment will be recommended. In its early stages, bowel cancer can be cured. However, only an operation can achieve this. The large majority of curative operations result in a rejoining of the bowel with an eventual return to normal function.

Specialist bowel nurses help me to give you the best advice and treatment possible. They are invaluable in providing support for those patients who require a temporary or permanent stoma as part of their treatment.

Most bowel cancer operations can now be performed laparoscopically (keyhole procedure). Our modern techniques and state-of-the-art equipment mean that straightforward bowel cancer operations now require usually no more than a 2 night hospital stay.

The results from all my operations in Hereford are submitted to a national database run by the NHS. This allows my patients' outcomes to be compared with other surgeons and units throughout the country. It has been shown that surgeons who regularly report their outcomes tend to get better results and this has certainly been my experience in Hereford. Click here for patient experiences.

Frequent questions about the process.

“I was diagnosed with colon cancer... I was in a state of shock... but I had Mr McIlroy to explain all the details about the operation to give me the best chance to be free of colon cancer. (after the operation) I was out of bed the next day and home two days later. At home I was contacted every day for a week to ensure all was well... I must say from start to this present time my treatment has been wonderful.”

Mrs CW