Bowel cancer is a general term for cancer that begins in the large bowel. Depending on where the cancer starts, bowel cancer is sometimes called colon or rectal cancer.
Symptoms of bowel cancer:-
The three main symptoms of bowel cancer are:
- Persistent blood in the stools – that occurs for no obvious reason or is associated with a change in bowel habit
- A persistent change in your bowel habit – which usually means going 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 appetite or significant unintentional weight loss
The symptoms of bowel cancer can be subtle and don’t necessarily make you feel ill.
Causes of bowel cancer:-
It’s not known exactly what causes bowel cancer, but there are a number of things that can increase your risk.
- Age – almost 9 in 10 cases of bowel cancer occur in people aged 60 or over
- Diet – a diet high in red or processed meats and low in fibre can increase your risk
- Weight – bowel cancer is more common in people who are overweight or obese
- Exercise – being inactive increases your risk of getting bowel cancer
- Alcohol and smoking – a high alcohol intake and smoking may increase your chances of getting bowel cancer
- Family history – having a close relative (mother or father, brother or sister) who developed bowel cancer under the age of 50 puts you at a greater lifetime risk of developing the condition.
Some people also have an increased risk of bowel cancer because they have another condition, such as extensive ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease in the colon for more than 10 years.
Although there are some risks you can’t change, such as your family history or your age, there are several ways you can lower your chances of developing the condition.
Treatment for bowel cancer:-
Bowel cancer can be treated using a combination of different treatments, depending on where the cancer is in your bowel and how far it has spread.
⇒The main treatments are:
- Surgery – the cancerous section of bowel is removed; it’s the most effective way of curing bowel cancer and in many cases is all you need
- Chemotherapy – where medication is used to kill cancer cells
- Radiotherapy – where radiation is used to kill cancer cells
- Biological treatments – a newer type of medication that increases the effectiveness of chemotherapy and prevents the cancer spreading
As with most types of cancer, the chance of a complete cure depends on how far it has advanced by the time it’s diagnosed. If the cancer is confined to the bowel, surgery is usually able to completely remove it.
Keyhole or robotic surgery is being used more often, which allows surgery to be performed with less pain and a quicker recovery.