Men and women are affected equally by bowelA common name for the large and/or small intestines.cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body..
An estimated 16,000 people die from colorectal cancer every year in England alone.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer in England.
Around 83% of cases of bowel cancer occur in people over 60.
Two-thirds of colorectal cancers develop in the colonThe large intestine., with the remaining third developing in the rectumThe last part of the large intestine, where faeces are stored before being passed..
As University College Hospital colorectal cancer expert, Mr Austin Obichere explains, "Improved survival [in bowel cancer] is dependent on the diagnosisThe process of determining which condition a patient may have. and surgical treatment of early stage disease (no cancerousMalignant, a tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. spread to the lymphA watery or milky bodily fluid containing lymphocytes, proteins and fats. Lymph accumulates outside the blood vessels in the intercellular spaces of the body tiisues and is collected by the vessels of the lymphatic system. glands or distant organs)". Most bowel cancers initially arise from pre-cancerous polypsGrowths on the surface of a mucous membrane (a surface that secretes mucous), lining any body cavity that opens to the outside of the body. which can be detected during a colonoscopyExamination of the colon and rectum with a colonoscope, an imaging instrument that is inserted through the anus.. Screening is therefore the opportunity to prevent bowel cancer developing and to treat the condition before it progresses to an advanced stage. However, some bowel cancers are inherited and a detailed family history is also required to identify those most at risk.
Early detection is the key, and so here is a summary of the symptoms:
bloodA fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid. in stools or bleeding from the rectum
a change to normal bowel habits that persists for more than six weeks
abdominalRelating to the abdomen, which is the region of the body between the chest and the pelvis. pain
unexplained weight loss
The normal course of events for managing colorectal cancer is:
But what is the best level of care that you should expect to receive? The answer according to the latest National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance consists of the following recommendations: