Bowel cancer that has spread to lymph nodes and lungs

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Hi all 

my dad is a healthy 52 year old that has just be diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer that has spread to his lymph nodes and lungs. Before today he was working and had no idea he has this cancer. He’s been symptom free and no pain. Can someone help make sense of it. They have told him it’s not curable and they want to start him on chemotherapy. 

Ones mind does run away and I don’t know if he has a week a year or 10 years. Can anyone please help me to understand this all the surgeon has little to no time as hospital was so busy he is being kept in hospital to try and speed up the process. 

I just want to know what’s best to do at this stage and if we have time. 

thank you in advance for any support you can offer. 

  • Hi  

    Welcome to the forum but I am sorry to hear about your dad .

    Was he picked up through a screen ?

    I have linked in a useful booklet that goes through the various options for someone who has disease that has spread .

    They try to use a systemic approach to treatment if possible with the aim of stabilising the visible disease , hopefully kill off any stray cell but also may gain some shrinkage in the presenting tumours .

    They will want to know what your dads cell type is to get the optimum treatment pathway for him .

    They generally rescan and if possible might add in other treatment approaches . Bowel cancer that has spread is more favourable than some other primary cancers as it has lots of different options . Others can use chemo in a maintenance’s situation and you will see people on the boards seven years into this . Etc .

    Depending on the cell type some people are now using immunotherapy.

    Not everyone one responds yet but treatment is very proactive now . My own mum is a great responder to treatment and was able to add in liver and lung surgeries. Size and location of the spread matters and there is criteria do everything .

    initially going to chemo felt bad as I thought she had missed out on surgery but with hindsight I attribute it to her longevity. She is entering year 15 following a stage 4 diagnosis. So it’s not without hope but it can be tough and needs a lot of support . But sometimes in a stage 4 situation it matters more now how he responds .

    Lots of Hope still and give yourself time to find your feet with this new way of living with treatment and hospitals now part of the process . 
    Make sure you use reliable tools for your information. Bowel cancer U.K. also has info .

    We have a helpline 0808 808 0000 . Nurses can talk you through any medical aspect but there is also emotional support , financial or information in general available.

    Please feel free to ask anything . My mum’s liver tumours grew quickly but her lungs are very slow . 

    She still has a spread in her lungs all these years later .

    After the first couple of intense years there were many good times still to be had .

    How is your dad coping ? 
    Do they want to operate on the bowel ?

    Take care ,


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  • Hi Tom72. I was a little older than your Dad when diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2022 but like him I had no symptoms prior to returning a FIT test as part of a routine medical. I had 31 lymph nodes removed along with a section of my bowel. Twenty-two of these were cancerous, which might be something of record looking through this forum. I was diagnosed as Stage 4 a year later after the cancer had spread to my para-aortic lymph nodes. Like your Dad my cancer is incurable. . I have a 11cm chain of cancerous lymph nodes, the largest of which is 22mm in size. The cancer has been relatively slow growing and other than suffering fatigue I have felt generally well. 

    My wife and I have taken a cruise; been to concerts and the theatre. I have continued to coach a university women’s rugby team. I live life to the full although how long my life will be I do not know.

    I have actually found my diagnosis/prognosis empowering in that I don’t put off what I can do today until tomorrow.

    Hope your Dad eventually feels the same.

    All the best.


  • So good to read this  . So helpful having you around to share this experience with others .



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