Bowel (Colon & Rectum) Cancer


It is the UK’s second biggest cancer killer claiming a life every 30 minutes – yet bowel cancer spotted early can be successfully treated in more than 90% of cases.

In the video below Sarah Fisher, past CEO of HCA UK NHS Ventures, shares her own personal experience of the disease and urges people to “know your bodies” and to visit your GP if anything out of the ordinary happens.

What is Bowel Cancer?

The rectum is the last 15cm of the large bowel before the anus and is sometimes described as being made up of three sections – upper, middle and lower. The upper rectum is the part after the colon, and the lower rectum is where the bowel joins the anus. The colon and rectum make up the large bowel, so cancer of the colon or rectum is also called colorectal cancer or bowel cancer. It is the third most common cancer diagnosed in the UK. The cause of most cases is unknown but lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise are thought to affect your risk of developing colon or rectal cancer.

Dr Vivek Misra, Consultant Clinical Oncologist at The Christie Private Care talks about the symptoms of bowel cancer, the importance of screening and treatment of the disease.

Things to look out for

Symptoms can include:

  • A persistent change in bowel habit lasting several weeks, especially going to the toilet more often or diarrhoea
  • Blood – either bright or dark – from the back passage
  • Pain, especially if it is severe, in the abdomen or back passage
  • A lump in your abdomen
  • A feeling of not having emptied your bowel properly after a bowel motion
  • Unexplained tiredness and/or weight loss

If the cancer causes an obstruction in the bowel, symptoms may include:

  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Abdomen pain
  • Bloating

These symptoms can be caused by other conditions but it is important to have them checked by your doctor. If your symptoms don’t improve within a few weeks, or if they get worse, it’s important that you see your GP who can refer you to a specialist if necessary. To book an appointment with a specialist please call 0161 638 7408.