Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

plain language summary


Bowel cancer is a common disease in the UK with over 42,000 people diagnosed every year. If at diagnosis the cancer is found to have spread then patient outcomes can be poor. A common site for such spread is the liver. When this happens, it is called secondary liver cancer (the primary cancer being in the bowel). The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends surgery to remove the cancer from the liver where possible (the surgery needs to leave enough of the liver to support the patient). Around 25% of people who have such surgery survive for at least ten years. Previous studies, some of which date back 10 years, have shown that use of liver surgery varies significantly across the English NHS. This study looked at more recent data to see whether this variation still exists.


The study identified all patients who underwent bowel cancer surgery in an NHS hospital between 2005-2012. All patients who received liver surgery within three years of their bowel surgery were then identified.


There were significant differences in the rate of liver surgery between NHS Trusts. Also, patients whose bowel surgery took place in a hospital with an onsite liver specialist team were more likely to receive a liver operation. This may mean more patients could be benefiting from surgery for secondary liver cancer.

Project Outputs

Background work/relevant papers