Surgery improves the chances of people surviving cancer if the disease has spread from the bowel to the liver, experts have said.
For people who have cancer that is operable, survival rates are boosted dramatically by an operation, a study found. However, not all people will benefit.
Of the people who have stage four cancer but do not have surgery there is a 9% chance patients will survive for five years.
The five-year survival rate can be boosted to 46% by a liver resection, an operation to remove the cancerous part of the liver and a small part of healthy tissue around it, the National Cancer Intelligence Network found.
This means patients with stage four disease have similar survival rates as people with stage three disease - before the cancer has spread - who have a 48% chance of surviving.
The surgery has now become the gold standard across the UK for patients with this type of cancer.
Lead author Dr Eva Morris, a Cancer Research UK scientist from the University of Leeds, said: "This surgery is very skilled and should be undertaken by expert surgeons working in specialist liver units.
"We must work towards ensuring that all patients who need liver resections can access these services."
The study, published in the British Journal of Surgery, followed more than 114,000 people who had undergone surgery for bowel cancer and more than 3,000 who also had liver resections.