Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK, accounting for 13% of all new cases of cancer. That was 40,695 in 2010. The incidence rates of bowel cancer increase sharply from the age of 50. The good news is that bowel cancer is one of the most treatable cancers if found in the early stages. If diagnosed early 90% can be cured.
Bowel cancer symptoms
Bleeding from your back passage (rectum) or blood in your stools.
A change in your normal bowel habit to diarrhoea or looser stools lasting longer than 4-6 weeks.
Losing weight for no reason (unexplained weight loss).
Pain in your abdomen or back passage.
A lump in your abdomen.
A feeling of needing to strain in your back passage as though you always need to pass a motion.
Anaemia (which causes tiredness, dizziness, breathlessness).
If you have symptoms of bowel cancer we advise you make an appointment as soon as possible.
Screening for patients with no symptoms
Most bowel cancers develop from benign polyps in the bowel over about a 10 year period. Screening tests such as flexible sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy will identify these lesions. As about 10% of polyps turn into cancer it is usually advised that any polyps are removed. A screening colonoscopy at aged 50 years may save your life from bowel cancer at 60.
Family History of Bowel Cancer
About 20% of bowel cancer is inherited. Families with inherited bowel cancer need regular screening from a younger age. We can advise and refer patients with concerns about their family history.