Bowel cancer is also called colorectal cancer. It affects the large bowel, which is made up of the colon and rectum.
The cells in your body normally divide and grow in a controlled way. When cancer develops, the cells change and can grow in an uncontrolled way.
Most bowel cancers develop from pre-cancerous growths, called polyps. But not all polyps develop into cancer. If your doctor finds any polyps, he or she can remove them to prevent them becoming cancerous.
Cancer cells may stay in the bowel or they might spread to other parts of the body, like the liver or lungs.
Facts and Figures
These statistics can only give you a general idea of how bowel cancer affects the UK population. They cannot tell you what will happen to you, as this depends on lots of things, like what treatment you have. Your GP or healthcare team can tell you more about your individual situation and how these statistics may affect you.
How common is bowel cancer?
Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK and the second biggest cancer killer.
Over 42,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in the UK.
Around 268,000 people living in the UK today have been diagnosed with bowel cancer.
More than nine out of ten new cases (94%) are diagnosed in people over the age of 50, and nearly six out of ten cases (59%) are diagnosed in people aged 70 or over. But bowel cancer can affect anyone of any age. More than 2,500 new cases are diagnosed each year in people under the age of 50.
1 in 15 men and 1 in 18 women will be diagnosed with bowel cancer during their lifetime.
How many people survive bowel cancer?
Bowel cancer is treatable and curable especially if diagnosed early. Nearly everyone survives bowel cancer if diagnosed at the earliest stage. However this drops significantly as the disease develops. Early diagnosis really does save lives
More than 16,000 people die from bowel cancer in the UK every year. It is the second biggest cancer killer in the UK. But the number of people dying of bowel cancer has been falling since the 1970s. This may be due to earlier diagnosis and better treatment.
Bowel Cancer Screening
Screening is a way of testing healthy people to see if they show any early signs of cancer.
Bowel cancer screening can save lives. Screening aims to detect bowel cancer at an early stage, when treatment has the best chance of working. The test can also find polyps (non-cancerous growths), which might develop into cancer. Polyps can usually be removed, to lower the risk of bowel cancer.
What is bowel cancer screening?
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland people over the age of 60 are invited to take part in bowel cancer screening. In Scotland, screening starts from age 50. You will be invited to take part in screening every two years until you reach the age of 75.
Each of the screening programmes in the UK use home tests, which look for hidden blood in poo. If you are registered with a GP and within the eligible screening age range, a test will be automatically posted to you, so you can complete it in the privacy of your own home.
Which bowel screening tests are used in the UK?
There are currently three different bowel screening tests used as part of bowel screening programmes in the UK. The test you receive will vary depending on which country you live in.
The following resources are from Bowel Cancer UK. Visit their website for further information at www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk
Sources: The information contained in this post was taken from Bowel Cancer UK website www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk
We have used this in the best faith to develop the awareness of Bowel Cancer.
LivingCare undertake Bowel Scoping on behalf of the West Yorkshire area. The Programme Holder for West Yorkshire is Harrogate and District NHS Trust. The BOSS programme is through GP referral only.