Bowel resection for colorectal cancer
Anatomy of the colon and rectum
The colon and rectum are the last parts of the bowel (intestine). The bowel extends from the opening where food leaves the stomach to the opening where feces leave the body (anus). The bowel helps to process food, absorb nutrients and water, and get rid of waste.
Colon cancer site
Cancer is shown in a section of the descending colon.
Bowel section removed
Resection is another name for any operation that removes tissue or part of an organ. Bowel resection, also called partial colectomy, for colorectal cancer removes the tumor and part of the colon or rectum around the tumor. Both ends of the bowel section being removed are stapled and cut. Nearby lymph nodes, lymph drainage channels, and blood vessels are also removed.
The remaining ends of the bowel are reattached, either end-to-end, side-to-side, or side-to-end.
If you have laparoscopic surgery, you will have 3 to 6 small scars. An example is in the picture on the left. Your surgeon may make 1 or 2 of the small openings a little bigger to allow space to complete the procedure. If so, those scars will be a little longer than the others. If you have an open resection, you will have one long scar. An example is in the picture on the right.
Last Updated: October 1, 2008
Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Arvydas D. Vanagunas, MD - Gastroenterology