The bowel is an important part of our digestive system. From the stomach, food passes to the small bowel which absorbs nutrients to be distributed around the body. After this, whatever is left over gets passed into the large bowel where water is removed from waste product. This waste is then stored in the rectum until the body naturally flushes it out in the form of normal bodily movements (going to the toilet).
Bowel cancer usually refers to any type of cancer which forms in the large bowel. It is the fourth most common type of cancer in the UK and occurs when cells in the bowel begin to multiply uncontrollably. These cells will integrate themselves into the surrounding tissue before spreading to other parts of the body.
In the early stages of bowel cancer there may be no symptoms at all. It is also possible, especially at a more advanced stage of the disease, that the symptoms are akin to much less serious medical conditions such as haemorrhoids. It is therefore important to take time to get regularly checked out if you fall into any of the high risk categories, or show signs of possible symptoms listed below:
Bleeding from the rectum or blood present in stool.
Unexplained weight loss.
Major changes to usual bowel movements over a period of 3 weeks or more.
Higher risk groups
Over 50’s (95% of cases are in this age group).
Lack of exercise and a diet which is lacking in fruit and vegetables.
History of the disease within immediate family.
If you do notice any of these symptoms, or are worried about your health, make an appointment to visit your GP who will be able to offer further advice.
To reduce the risk of suffering from bowel cancer it is important to look at your current diet. Cutting down on alcohol intake and cigarettes will have health benefits for your entire body and not just your bowels. Aim to eat at least 18g of fibre every day, this will help to keep your bowels operating correctly. Getting enough fruit and vegetables will also help to keep you fit and healthy.
While it is important to get enough fruit and vegetables, don’t change your diet by too much too soon. If you feel any pain or discomfort due to a radical change in eating habits, it may be wiser to revert back to your usual routine and gradually introduce healthier choices.
If you have suffered any symptoms of bowel cancer then make an appointment with us today and we can provide you with the appropriate tests and offer fast results.