What is bowel cancer?
Bowel cancer is also referred to as colorectal or colon cancer. Nearly all bowel cancers develop in the large bowel
- two-thirds of these are in the colon and one-third in the rectum.
Most bowel cancers develop from polyps which are usually non-cancerous and, once detected, can be removed easily if caught early enough.
The bowel is divided into the small bowel (small intestine) and the large bowel (colon and rectum).
Cancer of the small bowel is rare with only just over 700 people diagnosed in the UK each year.
On the Bowel Cancer UK website, "bowel cancer" refers to cancer of the large bowel and not small bowel cancer.
Symptoms of bowel cancer
The symptoms of bowel (colorectal) cancer can be:
- Bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo
- A change in bowel habit lasting for 3 weeks or more especially to looser or runny poo
- Unexplained weight loss
- Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
- A pain or lump in your tummy
You might experience one, some, all of the above or no symptoms at all. Remember most symptoms will not be bowel cancer.
If you are worried about any symptoms that you think might be caused by bowel cancer, make an appointment with your doctor or call the Bowel Cancer UK Information and Support Service on 0800 8 40 35 40 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Just remember you'll not be wasting anyone's time by getting checked out. If it isn't serious, you'll put your mind at rest. If it's bowel cancer, early detection can make all the difference. Over 90% who are diagnosed at the earliest stage are successfully treated. So a trip to your doctor could save your life.
For more information - Knowing the Symptoms and Who is at Risk
The bowel is divided into four sections:
The bowel is part of our digestive system. Food passes from the stomach to the small bowel. After the small bowel takes nutrients into the body, any undigested food passes through the large bowel, where water is removed from the waste matter. This waste matter is held in the rectum (back passage) until it leaves the body as bowel motions (also known as stools or faeces).
Cancer occurs when cells in your bowel multiply out of control. These cells can invade surrounding tissue and spread to other parts of the body.
Causes & Risks
Causes & Risks
Although the exact cause of bowel cancer is unknown, there are certain factors that may increase your risk.
Gender and age
Bowel cancer affects both men and women. In the UK, around 95% of cases occur in people over the age of 50
People with a first degree relative (such as mother, father, brother, sister, child) under 45 or with two or more first degree relatives with bowel cancer may be considered for further testing
Diet and lifestyle
An inactive lifestyle and a poor diet that is low in fresh fruit and vegetables may increase the risk of bowel cancer. A high intake of red and processed meat, smoking and excess alcohol may increase the risk
People with diabetes, a history of Crohn's disease in the large bowel, or ulcerative colitis, or who have had previous polyps removed, may also be at an increased risk
For further information and support please call the Bowel Cancer UK Information and Support Service on 0800 8 40 35 40 or email@example.com