Sometimes, cancer can spread through the lymphatic system. If bowel cancer spreads, it’s most likely to spread to nearby lymph nodes.

Sometimes, cancers that start in the colon, rectum and anus can spread to the lymph nodes nearby.

The lymphatic system helps protect us from infection and disease. It is made up of fine tubes called lymphatic vessels. These vessels connect to groups of small lymph nodes throughout the body. The lymphatic system drains lymph fluid from the tissues of the body before returning it to the blood.

Lymph nodes are sometimes called lymph glands. They filter bacteria (germs) and disease from the lymph fluid. When you have an infection, some lymph nodes may swell as they fight the infection.

Diagram of lymph nodes close to the bowel

Diagram of lymph nodes close to the bowel 

We have more information about the lymphatic system.