Bowel Cancer

Bowel cancer or colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Approximately, one in 12 people is at risk of developing bowel cancer if this is not prevented.

Symptoms of bowel cancer

The three main symptoms of bowel cancer are:

  • Persistent blood in the stools - Occurs for no obvious reason
  • Persistent change in bowel habit - Usually more often, with looser stools
  • Persistent lower abdominal (tummy) pain, bloating or discomfort - That's always caused by eating and may be associated with loss of apetite and weight loss

Most people with these symptoms do not have bowel cancer. Other health problems can cause similar symptoms. These symptoms should be taken more seriously as you get older and when they persist despite simple treatments.


Diagnosing Bowel Cancer

If your symptoms are suggestive or the diagnosis is uncertain, you will usually be referred to the hospital for further tests.

The two tests used for this are colonoscopy or computerised tomography (CT) colonography.

Emergency referrals, such as people with bowel obstruction, will be diagnosed by a CT scan. 

Click to see information on Colonoscopy

Click to see information on Colonoscopy

Treatment of Bowel Cancer

Treatment will depend on which part of your bowel is affected and how far the cancer has spread

Surgery is usually the main treatment for bowel cancer, and may be combined with chemotherapy, radiotherapy or biological treatments, depending in each case.

If detected early enough, treatment can cure bowel cancer and stop it coming back.