Bowel cancer Cause, Symptoms & Treatments

What is bowel cancer?

Bowel cancer, also known as colorectal cancer or Colon cancer, originates from the inner lining of the bowel and is normally foregone by growths called polyps, which may become intrusive cancer if undetected. Depending on where the cancer starts, bowel cancer may be called colon or rectal cancer. 

Bowel cancer is the third most typical cancer in both men and women in the world and is more common in individuals over the age of 50.

About 90 per cent of bowel cancers are adenocarcinomas, which begin in the glandular tissues lining the bowel. Other less typical kinds of cancer can also affect the bowel, including lymphomas and neuroendocrine tumours

Cancer can also begin in the small bowel but this is a very rare cancer. 

It is estimated that millions of cases of Colon cancer will be diagnosed worldwide in 2021-22.

The probability of surviving bowel cancer for at least five years is 70%. 

Risks and causes of bowel cancer

The risk of developing bowel (colon and rectal) cancer relies on many things including age, genetics and lifestyle aspects.

Anything that can raise your risk of cancer is called a risk factor. Those that ease the risk are called protective factors.

Having one or more risk factors doesn’t mean that you will certainly get Colon cancer. Risk factors for Colon cancer include:

Some aspects that increase your risk of bowel cancer include:

  • inherited genetic risk and family record of chronology
  • inflammatory bowel illness such as Crohn’s disease
  • high red meat consumption, particularly processed meats
  • polyps
  • being overweight or obese
  • Excess or high alcohol consumption
  • Too much smoking tobacco
  • having an earlier diagnosis of Colon cancer.

Symptoms of Bowel Cancer:

The 3 main signs & symptoms of bowel cancer are blood in the stools (faeces), differences in bowel habits – such as more frequent, looser stools – and abdominal (tummy) pain.

However, these signs & symptoms are very typical and most individuals with them do not have bowel cancer. For example, blood in the stools is more usually caused by haemorrhoids (piles), and a change in bowel habit or abdominal pain is normally the consequence of something you have eaten.

As almost 9 out of 10 individuals with Colon cancer are over the age of 60, these signs & symptoms are more significant as people get older. They are also more significant when they persist despite easy treatments.

Most individuals who are ultimately diagnosed with bowel cancer have one of the following combinations of symptoms:

  • change in bowel habits including diarrhoea, constipation or the sensation of incomplete emptying
  • a change in the formation or consistency of bowel movements such as thin bowel stools
  • Presence of blood in the stools
  • abdominal pain, bloating or cramping all time
  • Sometimes anal or rectal pain
  • A thin lump in the anus or rectum
  • weight loss
  • unexplained fatigue/tiredness
  • tiredness and/or anaemia (pale complexion, deficiency and breathlessness) 
  • blood in the urine or passing urine often or during the night change in urine colour – dark, rusty or brown.


Bowel cancer can be treated using a combination of various treatments, depending on where the cancer is in your bowel and how distant it has spread.

The main treatments are:

surgery –

In the surgery the cancerous section of the bowel is removed; it is the most useful way of curing bowel cancer, and is all that many individuals need

chemotherapy – where medication is utilised to kill cancer cells 

radiotherapy – where radiation is utilised to kill cancer cells

biological treatments – a newer class of medication that increases the effectiveness of chemotherapy and prevents cancer from spreading

As with most kinds of cancer, the chances of a complete cure depend on how far it has progressed by the time it is diagnosed.

Diagnosis of bowel cancer

A number of tests are operated on to diagnose bowel cancer. Originally, your doctor will give you a physical examination to handle if you have any abdominal swelling. Your doctor will also provide you with a digital rectal examination to inspect for any lumps or swelling in the rectum or anus.

Blood tests

You may have a blood test to notice if there are any signs & symptoms that you are losing blood in your stools. It can also notice your red blood cell count as low red blood cells are expected in individuals with bowel cancer.

Immunochemical faecal occult blood test (iFOBT)

You may have an Immunochemical faecal occult blood test (iFOBT) depending on your symptoms. The iFOBT test may be utilised if you have abdominal pain, changes to your bowel habits, unexplained weight loss or anaemia. It is not advised if you are bleeding from the rectum.

With the iFOBT, you will take a sample of your stools at home for the check. The sample is analysed under a microscope for traces of blood which could be a sign of polyps, cancer or other bowel diseases. It does not diagnose cancer but if blood is noticed, your doctor will suggest a colonoscopy no more than 30 days after getting the result.


The best &accurate test for bowel cancer is a colonoscopy, which analyses the length of the large bowel. Air is pumped into the colon through a loose tube that is inserted into the anus. A camera on the end of the tube allows your doctor to examine for abnormal tissue that is removed for further examination.

Flexible sigmoidoscopy

Flexible sigmoidoscopy is used to inspect the rectum and left side of the lower colon. Any uncommon tissue can be removed for further examination.


An MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging) scan produces precise cross-sectional pictures of the body and can show the measurement of any tumours.

CT scan

CT (Computed Tomography) scans produce three-dimensional pictures of several organs at the same time and can be used to analyse the bowel.

PET scan

In a PET (positron emission tomography) scan, a small amount of radioactive glucose is injected into the body. When scanned, cancer cells will materialise brighter.

After a diagnosis of bowel cancer  

After discovering that you have bowel cancer, you may feel shocked, upset, anxious or confused. These are typical responses. A diagnosis of Colon cancer impacts each individual differently. For most, it will be a challenging time, however, some individuals manage to continue with their normal daily activities.  

Side effects  

Treatment for bowel cancer and invariant cancer itself can provoke side effects. The kinds and harshness of any side effects you may experience will rely on the type of treatment you have and may differ from person to person. Many of those side effects are temporary and can be prevented, reduced or managed.    

Some of the side effects you may encounter include:   

  • fatigue   
  • nausea and vomiting   
  • hair loss
  • being more prone to illnesses
  • changes to bowel habits such as diarrhoea, constipation, incontinence or small parts of bleeding from the anus 
  • mouth difficulties
  • Transitions in appetite, taste and smell 
  • high blood pressure 
  • Transformations in memory and thinking 
  • change to fertility and sexual procedure. 

Talk to your health care team about any changes you encounter during and after treatment.  

Preventing bowel cancer

The risk of Colon cancer can be lowered by not smoking, a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, limiting consumption of red meat, avoiding processed meats, and supporting healthy body weight.

The prognosis for bowel cancer

Prognosis refers to the expected outcome of an illness. It is not feasible for any doctor to predict the exact period of the disease. An individual’s prognosis relies on the type and stage of cancer, as well as their age and general health at the time of diagnosis. This information at doctors hostel will also assist your doctor to advise on the best treatment choices.

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