01 April 2019
Bowel cancer, or colorectal cancer, is a cancer that starts in the large bowel (colon or rectum). Bowel cancer affects over 40,000 people per year in the UK and is the fourth most common cancer. Approximately 1 in 15 men and 1 in 18 women will be diagnosed with bowel cancer in their lifetime. The vast majority of people diagnosed with bowel cancer are aged over 50.
There are a number of lifestyle changes that can be made to reduce your risk of developing bowel cancer. These include not smoking, keeping a healthy weight, exercising regularly and reducing your consumption of processed meats. A history of bowel cancer in your family can also put you at an increased risk of bowel cancer.
The symptoms of bowel cancer can sometimes be quite subtle and often ignored. Symptoms of bowel cancer include a change in bowel habit, blood mixed in with your motions, bleeding from your back passage, tiredness or unexplained weight loss.
The investigations required to check your colon and rectum typically involve passing a flexible camera through the bottom and around the colon to check the lining of the bowel. A flexible sigmoidoscopy checks the lower part of the bowel and will involve using an enema to clear the rectum of stool. A colonoscopy looks at the whole of the large bowel. In this case some powerful laxatives called ‘bowel preparation’ have to be taken the day before the procedure. Both of these procedures are conducted as a day case and your surgeon will be able to tell you the results on the same day.
It is important not to ignore the early symptoms of bowel cancer. Bowel cancer is a disease that, if detected early enough, can be treated and often cured.
Advice from Mr Andrew Day, Mr John Grabham, and Mr Neil Smith, Consultant General and Colorectal Surgeons at Spire Gatwick Park Hospital. If you wish to book a consultation with Mr Day, Mr Grabham or Mr Smith, please call on 01293 778906 to find out more.