1. What is bowel cancer?
    Bowel cancer is a malignant growth in the lining of the large bowel which develops as a result of errors in the way normal cells reproduce. Bowel cancer is also known as colorectal cancer. It usually grows very slowly over a period of 10 years (or even more), before it starts to spread and affect other parts of the body.
    Most bowel cancers start as polyps – benign growths on the wall of the bowel. Many people have polyps which never develop into cancers.  However, a polyp called an adenoma can become cancerous if left to grow in the bowel. For more information about bowel cancer you can call our helpline but also the resources on NHS Choices pages may also be helpful.

  2. What causes bowel cancer?
    We do not really know what causes bowel cancer but we do know that there are some factors that increase your risk of being diagnosed with bowel cancer. Age and family history are two of the factors that increase the risk but we cannot control these. However, we can control some of the other risk factors: poor diet, excess alcohol intake, smoking and poor exercise. They all contribute to our chances of developing colorectal cancer.

  3. How common is bowel cancer?
    It is very common in  the UK and is considered to be the second most common cause of cancer death in this country. That is why the government introduced the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme. You can find some interesting statistics about bowel cancer on the CRUK Site.

  4. If I am diagnosed with bowel cancer what happens?
    It is very unlikely that you will be diagnosed with cancer.  However, should it be the case, the cancer is very likely to be in a very early stage where treatment is possible and very successful in terms of curing the disease.   
    Patients diagnosed with cancer would be seen and treated according to current medical practice at their local hospitals.