Bowel Cancer

Bowel Cancer

Bowel Cancer the fourth most common cancer in the UK. Every 15 minutes someone is diagnosed with the disease, that’s nearly 43,000 people each year.

What is Bowel cancer?

Bowel cancer means cancer that starts in the large bowel (colon) and the back passage (rectum). It is also known as colorectal cancer. Your treatment depends on where the cancer starts in your bowel.

Bowel cancer is also the UK’s second biggest cancer killer, however it shouldn’t be because it’s treatable and curable especially if diagnosed early. Nearly everyone survives bowel cancer if diagnosed at the earliest stage but this drops significantly as the disease develops. Early diagnosis really does save lives.

That’s why it’s so crucial to raise awareness of the symptoms of bowel cancer.

Most people with these symptoms don’t have bowel cancer. Other health problems can cause similar symptoms. But if you have one or more of these, or if things just don’t feel right, see your GP.

If you are experiencing symptoms of bowel cancer, it is important that you see your GP as soon as possible. Your GP may want to send you on an urgent referral but could request a stool sample first to check for traces of blood in your poo. It is extremely important that once you have received this test in the post, that it is completed, and returned as quickly as possible. You should always follow up the results to this with your GP.

On the run up to seeing your GP you might like to make a note of any changes in your bowel habits or any other symptoms. Keeping a diary of your symptoms can help you remember the details when you’re speaking to your GP. See your GP within three weeks of noticing any change in your bowels. If you have any bleeding from the opening of your back passage (anus) you should see your GP straight away.

During the appointment, your GP will ask you some questions about your symptoms. You can get ready for your appointment by thinking about your answers to some of the following questions.

  • When did you first notice your symptoms?
  • Do your symptoms come and go?
  • Have you noticed any blood in your bowel movements (poo) or on the toilet paper?
  • Do you have any pain when you go to the toilet?
  • Do you have pain in your stomach area?
  • Does your stomach feel more full than usual (bloated)?
  • Is your poo softer or harder than usual?
  • Are you going to the toilet more or less often than usual?
  • Do your symptoms wake you up at night?
  • Have you lost any weight recently?
  • Do you feel tired for no obvious reason?
  • Do you feel sick or get indigestion?

Your GP may also ask you whether there have been any changes in your life recently. For example, a change in your diet, any new medicines, any stress you might be under or any recent travel abroad.

They may ask you about any other illnesses or treatment you have had.

They will also ask about any close family history. Take as much information to your appointment as you can.

Please click on the link below to visit the Bowel Cancer UK website where you can download a symptoms diary to fill out before your visit with a GP.

Even if you have no symptoms as part of the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme, patients aged 50+* to 74 are automatically sent a simple home testing kit every two years from NHS England to collect a small sample of poo to be checked for tiny amounts of blood which may be caused by cancer. The simple FIT (Faecal Immunochemical Test) kit is also available to those aged 75+ by calling the free bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60.

If you receive one of these tests we highly encourage you to take part. For instructions on how to use this kit please see the video below:

For more information on Bowel Cancer screening please take a look at the following news article.

For more information on bowel cancer and for organisations dedicated to help and support please explore the following websites: