Bowel cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the UK. Find out all you need to know about bowel cancer.
The bowel is part of our digestive system and it’s divided into two parts: the small bowel and the large bowel. Nearly all bowel cancers are found in the large bowel, which is made up of the colon and the rectum.
Most of the nutrients from the food we eat are absorbed in the small bowel. Food then passes into the colon where water and any remaining nutrients are absorbed, leaving behind solid waste products. These waste products then move through the colon and the rectum before leaving the body.
Bowel cancer starts when cells in the bowel lining are damaged and then grow uncontrollably, forming a tumour.
Other names for bowel cancer include rectal cancer and colon cancer. These names depend on where within the bowel the cancer first starts developing.
In the UK, bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer people are diagnosed with. Around 44,700 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year, with around 122 new cases diagnosed each day.
For women, bowel cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosis, with 1 in 18 women likely to be diagnosed in their lifetime.
For men, bowel cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosis they receive, with 1 in 15 men diagnosed with bowel cancer during their lifetime.
Bowel cancer is more commonly diagnosed in people over the age of 50. In fact, around 9 out of 10 bowel cancer cases occur in the 50s.
As bowel cancer can affect anyone at any age, it’s a good idea to do what you can now to help reduce your risk of bowel cancer developing.
There are many risk factors to take into consideration when it comes to your risk of bowel cancer. Take our cancer health check to find out your cancer risk.