Wednesday 6th April 2022

Reduce your risk of bowel cancer. Top tips in Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

Every 15 minutes somebody is diagnosed with bowel cancer in the UK.

That’s nearly 43,000 people each year.

But what is bowel cancer? What are the signs to look out for? And what are the tips to help stay healthy?

In Bowel Cancer Awareness month, here are some often-asked questions and answers from Bowel Cancer West and the NHS 

What is the bowel?

It’s part of your digestive system. It takes nutrients and water from food and turns what is left into your poo. You may have heard of the colon and rectum – these make up your large bowel, part of your digestive system.

So what is bowel cancer?

Sometimes the cells that make up the bowel grow too quickly and form a clump known as a polyp. These polyps are not cancer, but they can sometimes change and become cancerous over a number of years.

Who gets bowel cancer?

Nine out of 10 new cases are diagnosed in people over the age of 50, and nearly six out of 10 cases are diagnosed in people aged 70 or over. But bowel cancer can affect anyone of any age as more than 2,600 new cases are diagnosed each year in people under the age of 50.

What are the symptoms of bowel cancer?

Symptoms include: blood in your poo; changes in going to the toilet – looser poo, or going more often, or constipation; a pain or lump in your tummy; feeling much more tired than usual for a period of time; losing weight for no obvious reason. Please note these symptoms DO NOT necessarily mean you have bowel cancer.

What should I do if I am worried?

That’s an easy one. See your doctor immediately!

How do I reduce the risk of bowel cancer?

The NHS invites everyone aged between 60 and 74 for bowel cancer screening every 2 years. It is starting to extend this age range, and may invite you if you are 56 or over. Please take part in this screening when invited. Having bowel cancer screening hugely reduces your risk of dying from bowel cancer. If you are aged 75 or over, you can ask for a screening test every two years.

You can also reduce your risk of bowel cancer by:
*keeping physically active
*keeping a healthy weight
*eating plenty of fibre, such as wholegrain foods
*eating lots of vegetables and fruit
*eating less red meat, especially processed meat
*drinking less alcohol
*not smoking

For more information about bowel cancer screening, you can call the free helpine on 0800 707 60 60

You can also: talk to your GP; or visit

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