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How many sessions of radiotherapy will my son have before he has surgery for coletectal cancer. The cancer hasn't spread outside the bowel 

  • Dear 

    Thanks for getting in touch and welcome to the online community, I hope you find it supportive.  My name is Gillian and I’m one of the Cancer Information Nurse Specialists on the Macmillan Support Line.

    I am sorry to hear of your son’s diagnosis of Bowel cancer, It must be a worrying time for you both and it is understandable you want to know more about the treatment involved.

    Radiotherapy can be given before colorectal surgery; this is referred to as neo-adjuvant radiotherapy. The aim of this is to shrink the tumour to make it easier to remove and reduce the risk of the cancer coming back after the surgery. The length of radiotherapy treatment will depend on the size of the tumour and an individual’s clinical details. Your son may be offered a short course of five daily treatments of radiotherapy. Alternatively, he may require a longer course of five treatments per week for five or six weeks.   

    Here at the Macmillan support line, we provide generalised cancer information and emotional support.  We are separate from all healthcare services and can’t access patient records to be able answer your question about your son’s treatment specifically. It might be helpful to contact his healthcare team for more information about his treatment plan.

    I hope you find this helpful, and if you’d like to chat over this or anything else we’d be happy to hear from you on the number below. Alternatively, you’re welcome to contact us through our online chat too.

    Best wishes 

    Gillian, Cancer Information Nurse Specialist 


    You can also speak with the Macmillan Support Line team of experts. Phone free on 0808 808 0000 (7 days a week, 8am-8pm) or email us. 

    Ref GJ/GG



  • His tumour is ctri lymph nodes near bowel with cancer cells 

  • Sorry his tumour is CT I am not very good at this 

  • Can the cancer spread while he is waiting for treatment?

  • Dear Rosie13

    My name is Rae and I am Gillian’s colleague here on the Support Line. 

    We can see that Gillian answered your question thoroughly and has invited you to contact us to chat the above information through, so we will just answer your question about whether cancer can spread whilst he is waiting for treatment.

    Waiting for treatment to start can be an anxiety provoking time for both you and your son.  Most cancers grow slowly, so waiting for treatment for a few weeks does not usually affect how well the treatment works.

    There are waiting time targets and in England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland the current targets are:

    • no more than 2 months (62 days) wait between the date the hospital receives an urgent suspected cancer referral and the start of treatment.
    • no more than 31 days wait between the meeting at which you and your doctor agree the treatment plan and the start of treatment.

    There are known delays to cancer treatments, and these have been published recently.  If you feel that your son is waiting too long for treatment, he can contact the Patient and Advice Liaison Service (PALS) within his hospital.  There is also the option of raising his concern higher if he is not satisfied with the answer from PALS.

    Please do speak to our nurses on the Support Line if you have any further questions or start another Ask A Nurse.  I am concerned that we will miss any correspondence from you here, due to the number of replies.

    Best wishes

    Rae, Cancer Information Nurse Specialist


    You can also speak with the Macmillan Support Line team of experts. Phone free on 0808 808 0000 (7 days a week, 8am-8pm) or send us an email.