Westmead specialist says bowel cancer survival improving

Westmead Hospital’s colorectal surgeon Dr James Toh.

Improvements in surgery are giving hope to the thousands of Australians diagnosed with bowel cancer each year.

Bowel cancer, sometimes referred to as colon or rectal cancer, is Australia’s second biggest cancer killer after lung cancer.

Westmead Hospital colorectal surgeon Dr James Toh said the survival rate is now more than 90 per cent for patients with stage 1 or 2 of the disease, which affects one in 15 Australians.

His recent findings were presented at Westmead Hospital Week, an annual showcase of medical advancements, research and innovation.

Westmead Hospital performs between 200-300 colorectal cancer surgeries each year and James credits the survival rates to using new invasive surgery standards of care.

“We associate these improvements with our advanced surgical techniques,” Dr Toh said.

“Using these techniques leads to a quicker recovery of bowel functions, lower use of painkillers and shorter hospital stays compared to a patient who has an open colectomy.

“It’s also the result of enhanced detection, dispensing chemotherapy and immunotherapy, and improved recovery after surgery.”

Westmead Hospital is a centre for cancer management, working in collaboration with The Crown Princess Mary Centre to provide cancer, palliative and supportive care.

Early detection of bowel cancer is important. To find out more about the National Bowel Cancer Screening program, visit: http://www.cancerscreening.gov.au/internet/screening/publishing.nsf/Content/bowel-screening-1