OCCTOPUS – Oxford Colon Cancer Trust

Oxford Colon Cancer Trust is a very practical charity. Our byline is “making new treatments happen”.   Originally formed in 2003, we aim to fund practical advances in treatment, education, and research in the 3 “C’s”: Colorectal cancer, Colitis and Crohns, and Continence.   Occtopus raises funds to lead this research within Oxford University Hospitals to create a centre of excellence with a national and international reach.

There is evidence that the incidence of  colorectal (bowel) cancer is increasing in Europe.  In the UK:

  • –  There are around 42,900 new bowel cancer cases in the UK every year, that’s nearly 120 every day (2016-2018)
  • –  Bowel cancer is the 3rd most common cancer in women, with around 19,000 new cases every year (2016-2018)
  • –  In males in the UK, bowel cancer is the 3rd most common cancer, with around 23,900 new cases every year (2016-2018)
  • –  43% of all new bowel cancer cases in the UK are diagnosed in people aged 75 and over (2016-2018)

Anything to do with the bowel is a ‘Cinderella’ subject. It does not have the immediate appeal that heart or children’s disease has for example. The differences in charitable giving for the big four cancers illustrate this. Which is why the generosity of our supporters is so critical.

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Cancer Giving  (2015) £
Breast cancer 45,382,316
Prostate cancer 22,955,468
Lung cancer 12,293,598
Colorectal (bowel) cancer 5,567,575

Such is the speed of progress in this area of surgery that new techniques and high technology equipment are being introduced all the time. Incisions and access to body cavities are becoming smaller and smaller in what is called minimally invasive or key-hole surgery. OCCTOPUS aims to help the colorectal team at the Oxford University Hospitals keep up to date with, and even ahead of these advances. Our patients benefit from the very latest treatment and we educate the surgeons of the future in the most modern procedures.

OCCTOPUS has already raised over £1,250,000 and funded two special key-hole theatres, one at the John Radcliffe and the other more recently at the surgery and diagnostics centre at the Churchill Hospital.  In 2019 we helped establish a permanent Chair for Colorectal Surgery within the University of Oxford working at Oxford University Hospitals.

Learn more about the projects we fund.

We seek to fund, and co-fund, with partner organisations, activities which are at the forefront of treatment and cure of the conditions we cover. This may include a pioneering type of procedure which has not become generally accepted or adopted by the NHS as standard:

  • – the purchase of equipment that is required;
  • – the research and analysis of such procedures to provide an evidential base for their benefits and widespread adoption;
  • – provision of training to practitioners worldwide in the undertaking of the procedure

We also consider ad hoc requests for funding of early-stage research ideas and other projects.

Report & Accounts 2020

The Trust has posted the latest accounts for the year ended 2020 a copy of which can be accessed here.

Members of the governing committee can be found here. If you require further information please contact us.

Charity Number 1104702.

The 3 C’s

Colorectal Cancer

Colon DiagramSometimes called bowel cancer this is a very common problem and early cases can be cured with surgery alone. Symptoms include bleeding from the bowel, a change in bowel habit, a lump in the abdomen, and sometimes pain. Patients finding these symptoms will be investigated by colonoscopy or CT colon exam. With the introduction of a national screening programme for bowel cancer there has been a shift from 10% of cases being classed as early to over 40% and this is an opportunity for keyhole or minimally invasive surgery.

The anatomy of the colon is shown on the right, and during surgery, a section of the colon is removed and usually rejoined. After the pathologist has examined the removed colon and especially any lymph glands a decision is made about postoperative chemotherapy.

For more information see the Cancer Research UK website www.canceresearchuk.org

Colitis and Crohns disease

These two diseases are often clumped together as IBD or inflammatory bowel disease.
They cause ulceration and narrowing of the bowel. If surgery is needed major procedures are required which are especially suitable for keyhole applications since the patients are young and want to avoid long incisions and return to normal activity as soon as possible.


The colon and rectum and indeed the rest of the intestinal tract cannot function well unless the pelvic floor works properly. Delicate mechanisms control continence, and although these are often not consciously appreciated when they go wrong there can be a huge effect on quality of life.