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Colon and rectal cancer: Glossary of terms

Here is a selection of terms which are relevant to the diagnosis and treatment of colon and rectal cancer.
  • Polyp :
    A benign growth arising from the bowel wall. However, as the polyps increase in size, over the years, so there is a greater chance that they will turn malignant.
  • Proctoscopy :
    The visualisation of the rectum through a telescopic device placed through the anus.
  • Colonoscopy :
    The direct visualisation of the colon via a fibreoptic telescopic device placed through the anus and manipulated around the colon.
  • Abdoperineal Resection/Excision :
    The standard radical resective surgical procedure for rectal cancer, where the whole rectum is removed and the end of the lower colon is brought out onto the anterior abdominal wall as a stoma and faeces are collected into a bag.
  • Anterior resection :
    This is a restorative surgical procedure used in higher rectal; cancers. The diseased segment of rectum is excised and the two ends of bowel either side of this segment are re-anastomosed.
  • Procto-colectomy :
    The removal of the whole colon and almost the whole rectum (leaving only a low rectal stump into which the ileum is joined). This is usually a prophylactic (insurance policy) procedure used in patients with polyposis coli.


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