Bowel cancer

Bowel cancer is the second most common cancer in the UK. The majority start as small benign growths or polyps in the colon, which can be removed if detected early enough.

Symptoms of bowel cancer can include:

  • Changes in bowel function; constipation or diarrhoea
  • Rectal bleeding and/or pain
  • Itching of the anus
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fatigue, loss of energy

Colonic polyps and cancer can be detected using a specialised CT scan (CT colonography) or by endoscopy (flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy).

People with a strong family history of colon cancer or specific medical conditions such as ulcerative colitis should undergo regular colonoscopic surveillance.

A national bowel cancer screening programme now exists for those aged 60-69 years. For more information, visit: and