The bowel is part of the digestive system and is divided into the small bowel and large bowel. The large bowel is made up of the colon, rectum and anus. The term bowel cancer is normally used to talk about:
But it is also used when talking about other cancers, including:
If you are diagnosed with bowel cancer, it means you have one of the specific cancers listed above. If you are not sure which type, ask your GP, cancer doctor or specialist nurse for more information.
Doctors do not know the exact causes of bowel cancer. But there are risk factors that can increase your chance of developing it. These will depend on the type of bowel cancer you have, but there are some common risk factors.
Most people usually begin by seeing their GP. If they think your symptoms could be caused by cancer, they will refer you to a specialist at the hospital. There are other ways you may be diagnosed:
- Having NHS Bowel Screening
Bowel screening is a way of finding bowel cancer at an early stage before it causes symptoms. If you have a family history of bowel cancer, you may need to have bowel screening at an earlier age.
- Going to hospital with a problem, such as bowel obstruction
This is when part of the bowel becomes blocked. It may cause symptoms such as tummy pain, nausea and vomiting, and constipation.