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. The cancer can start in the small bowel, also known as the small intestine, but small bowel cancer is much rarer than large bowel cancer. According to the NHS, about one in every 20 people in the UK will develop bowel cancer in their lifetime. With these worrying statistics, knowing the early symptoms of the disease is vital and noticing a lump and feeling a lump in this body part could mean you’re at risk.
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Bowel cancer UK said: “Bowel cancer is now the second biggest cancer killer in the UK claiming more than 16,000 lives a year, that’s over 44 people every day.
“Every 15 minutes in the UK someone is diagnosed with bowel cancer.
“That’s almost 42,000 people every year and every 30 minutes someone dies from bowel cancer.”
Noticing and feeling a lump in the tummy along with pain is an early warning sign and could mean you’re at risk.
Guts UK said: “Throughout our lives, the lining of the bowel constantly renews itself. This lining contains many millions of tiny cells, which grow, serve their purpose and then new cells take their place.
“Each one of these millions of cells contains genes that give instructions to the cell on how to behave.
“When genes behave in a faulty manner, this can cause the cells to grow too quickly, which eventually leads to the formation of a growth that is known as a polyp.
“This is the first step on the road towards cancer.”
What are the other symptoms of bowel cancer?
Gut UK added: “The development of a bowel cancer from a polyp may take between five and ten years, and early on there may be no symptoms at all.
“The most common symptoms are bleeding from the bowel, a change in bowel habit, such as unusual episodes of diarrhoea or constipation and an increase in the amount of mucus in the stool.
“A bowel cancer can enlarge causing partial or complete blockage of the bowel leading to abdominal pain, constipation and bloating.”
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How to test if it’s bowel cancer?
Bowel cancer UK said: “It is important to remember that screening is for people with no symptoms.
“If you are worried about any symptoms, you should visit your doctor.
“Self-test kits you can buy over the counter will vary in quality, so the results could be misleading.
“Before NHS screening programmes, like bowel cancer screening, are implemented, the NHS will thoroughly consider all the available evidence and consider whether the benefits outright any risks.”
The survival of bowel cancer greatly depends on the type and stage of the cancer.
Treatment for bowel cancer will depend on which part of the bowel is affects and how far the cancer has spread, and, if detected early enough, treatment can cure bowel cancer completely, so it is extremely important for one to know the early signs and speak to their GP if concerned.
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