How Common is Bowel Cancer?
Bowel cancer, colon cancer and colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer affecting men and women in the UK and across the world.
It can happen at any age and affects both men and women. Bowel cancer is more common as you increase in age, particularly above 40 years of age, however, there is increasing evidence that bowel cancer is becoming increasingly more common at a younger age. This is why screening for this type of cancer is so important as, if caught early enough, it is completely curable.
What are the Symptoms of Bowel Cancer?
Unfortunately, early-stage bowel cancer does not have any symptoms so ever that’s why preventive screening to assess the bowel is more important than ever. The gold standard for investigating the bowel and ruling out colon or bowel cancer is a colonoscopy. In addition to
identifying and treating bowel cancer a colonoscopy can also find precancerous growths or polyps which can be removed to can reduce your risk of developing cancer in the future.
There are, however, various symptoms that would require further investigation to rule out bowel cancer for certain. These symptoms include bleeding from the anus and abdominal pain, a change bowel habits, particularly a change towards a looser stool and weight loss. It is important to realise however that many other conditions i.e. conditions other than cancer can cause these problems so further investigation is extremely important.
Who is at an Increased Risk of Bowel Cancer?
There are a number of people who have slightly increased risk of getting bowel or colon cancer when compared to the general population.
One of the biggest risk factors is that of having a family history of this type of cancer so if you’ve got a family history you are at a slightly increased risk of bowel cancer and probably should get screened.
The other risk factors include obesity, diabetes, people that eat a lot of animal-based fats and patients that have inflammatory bowel disease predominantly affecting the colon so that’s
Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s disease. Smoking is also something that associated with an increased risk of bowel cancers and is something that you should consider cutting back on or stopping completely, particularly as you increase in age.