Types of bowel cancer

Types of bowel cancer
Find out about different types of bowel cancer.

Types of bowel cancer
Bowel cancer can start in the large bowel (colon) or the back passage (rectum). It is also divided into different types depending on the type of cell that your cancer started in. Knowing this helps your doctor decide which treatment you need.


Adenocarcinomas start in the gland cells in the lining of the bowel wall. The gland cells normally produce mucus. This is a slimy substance that makes it easier for the poo (also called faeces or stool) to pass through the bowel. Adenocarcinoma is the most common type of bowel cancer.

There are 2 rare types of adenocarcinoma:

mucinous tumours
signet ring tumours
They are treated in the same way as the most common types of adenocarcinoma of the bowel.

Rare types of bowel cancer
Squamous cell tumours
Squamous cells are the skin cells that make up the bowel lining, together with the gland cells. They are treated in the same way as cancer of the anus.

Carcinoid tumours
Carcinoid is a type of slow growing tumour called a neuroendocrine tumour. They grow in hormone producing tissue, usually in the digestive system.

Carcinoid is treated differently to the most common types of bowel cancer.

Sarcomas are cancers of the supporting cells of the body, such as bone or muscle. Most sarcomas in the bowel are called leiomyosarcomas. This means they are sarcomas that started in smooth muscle.

Sarcomas are treated differently to adenocarcinomas of the bowel.

Lymphomas are cancers of the lymphatic system. They are treated very differently to other bowel cancers.

via Types of bowel cancer | Bowel cancer | Cancer Research UK