Important information

A person with a suspected bowel cancer should be referred to a colorectal or general surgeon who is a member of a relevant multidisciplinary team.

All specialists listed on Canrefer are members of a multidisciplinary team.


What is bowel cancer?

Bowel cancer is cancer that starts in any part of the large intestine. This can include the colon or rectum. NSW has some of the best treatment outcomes in the world for bowel cancer.


There is a separate page for rectal cancer. This includes a list a specialist centres for treatment.

Graphic of the human body highlighting the bowel system


What tests are needed?

Common tests used to diagnose bowel cancer include:

  • physical examination including digital rectal examination
  • faecal occult blood test (FOBT)
  • colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy
  • blood tests
  • imaging - CT scan, MRI scan and/or PET scan.


What treatment options are there?

Treatment for bowel cancer may include one or more of the following:

  • surgery
  • chemotherapy
  • targeted therapy
  • radiotherapy.

If treatment is specialised and complex patients may need to travel to have part of their treatment. The local health district will have an arrangement in place for this.


How common is bowel cancer in NSW?

Bowel cancer was diagnosed in:

  • 2015
    5295 people in NSW
  • 2014
    5102 people in NSW
  • 2013
    4995 people in NSW
Data source: Cancer statistics NSW portal (sourced from Institute Data Warehouse, Cancer Institute NSW. Available at:

Last updated: 08 October 2018