Everyone counts - surgery for bowel cancer

Across the NHS the outcomes after surgery are being shared so that we can all find out how well our local hospital is doing. At Southampton our surgeons and the whole healthcare team are keen to review our results and to achieve the very best for patients. In September, the results were published for our surgeons carrying out planned major operations for bowel cancer (described fully as ‘major elective resections for colorectal cancer’).

This surgery plays an important part in treating patients with bowel cancer and results are good, though this is major surgery and a small number of patients do not recover well.

The published report covered our work from April 2010 to March 2012. Results are stated as the number of patients who die within 90 days of their operation. We are pleased to know that none of our surgeons’ results were seen as ‘outliers’ – this means our outcomes are good and in the expected range. 

Across England, on average, three patients die out of each 100 operations carried out. Overall, in Southampton, our results were that just fewer than two patients die out of each 100 operations (1.8%). Over the period we carried out 274 operations – so we had three additional survivors compared to the average. This is good news for our patients and our teams. We will keep looking at our results and we expect to be doing even better for our patients as future years are published.

For more information about the National Audit on Bowel Cancer you can visit the Health & Social Care Information Centre website.

An important message about bowel cancer is that the earlier treatment is started, the better the results. So we are all asked to keep a look out for signs that might mean we are affected and report these to our GP. Three key signs are:

  • blood showing up in your poo
  • bowel habit changes such as diarrhoea or constipation that last
  • weight loss for no reason.

Find out more on the NHS Choices website

We can also do things to reduce the chance of bowel cancer – though we can't stop getting older which is an important factor we can:

  • be careful with our diet – including plenty of fibre
  • keep a healthy weight
  • keep active
  • not smoke or drink too much.