Bowel Health Screening

Bowel Health Screening

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK. Every year there are more than 42,000 people with a diagnosis.

However, the good news is that it is treatable and curable with early detection.

The bowel is the lower part of the digestive system. Bowel cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is in the large bowel which is made up of the colon and rectum. Most bowel cancers develop from pre-cancerous growths, polyps which don’t always develop into cancer. Symptoms are bleeding, diarrhea, mucous deposits, gastric pain. Early discovery of polyps means that they can be removed which greatly reduces the risk of developing cancer.

There is a higher risk of getting bowel cancer with one or more of the following factors:

  • 50 years of age or over – the risk of bowel cancer increases with age, but it can affect people of any age
  • Family history of bowel cancer
  • A genetic condition linked to bowel cancer such as Lynch syndrome
  • Non-cancerous growths (polyps) in your bowel
  • Longstanding inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • An unhealthy lifestyle

Adopting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is most clearly the best action to limit risk of any condition. Diet and exercise are of paramount importance. Eat regularly, include fibre rich foods such as wholegrains, fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and pulses. Drink between 2 and 5 litres of water a day and undertake at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily.

It is important to remember that with early diagnosis the outlook is not so gloomy. Testing is simple, a stool sample is collected and analysed for blood, even microscopic amounts. If detected further tests will then establish the cause because, whilst an indicator of bowel cancer, blood in faeces can also be as a result of a stomach ulcer, colitis, diverticulitis and genetic disease such as Crohns, all treatable in differing ways.