Large bowel cancer

More common in men and people over 50, most large bowel cancers develop in the inner lining of the bowel.

 

What is large bowel cancer?

The bowel is made up of two main parts – the small bowel and the large bowel. Both are part of the digestive system. The colon, rectum and anus make up the large bowel. Cancer in the large bowel is called large bowel cancer or colorectal cancer.
 

Causes of large bowel cancer

It’s not always clear what cases large bowel cancer. However, certain factors increase your risk. These include:

    • A family history of familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC)
    • Being overweight
    • Heavy drinking and smoking
    • One or more family members have had bowel cancer
    • Having had inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). For example, Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
    • Regularly eating red or processed meats
    • Certain infections such HPV, HIV (anal cancer) and Helicobacter pylori infections.
    • Certain medical conditions such diabetes and gallstones

Symptoms of large bowel cancer

Changes in your usual bowel habit (constipation or diarrhoea)

Feeling and/or being sick

Feeling as if you haven’t emptied your bowel after a bowel movement

Light or dark blood in the stools

Loss of appetite

Pain when passing a bowel movement

Tummy pains

Weight loss

Having one or more of these symptoms doesn’t mean you have cancer but it’s best to ask your doctor for advice. The sooner your cancer is detected, the better the chances of treating it successfully.

Test and diagnosis

Your doctor will discuss your symptoms and carry out a physical examination. You may also have:

  • Barium enema – this test helps a doctor to get a clear image of the large bowel
  • Blood tests
  • Colonoscopy – to examine the bowel using a camera. Sometimes a tiny sample of tissue may be taken for analysis (biopsy)
  • Scans including CT, PET, MRI or ultrasound
  • Sigmoidoscopy or proctoscopy – both tests involve using a camera to examine the large bowel. Your doctor will also take a small tissue sample (biopsy)
  • Genetic testing

Treatments we offer

Treatments for bowel cancer may include surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
 
 

Radiotherapy kills cancer cells. It’s used in the early stages of cancer treatment or after it has started to spread. It can also be used to relieve pain and discomfort from cancer that has spread.

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Chemotherapy is medication that treats your cancer. The drugs kill cancer cells, preventing them from dividing and spreading further.

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Radiotherapy kills cancer cells. It’s used in the early stages of cancer treatment or after it has started to spread. It can also be used to relieve pain and discomfort from cancer that has spread.

Read more

Chemotherapy is medication that treats your cancer. The drugs kill cancer cells, preventing them from dividing and spreading further.

Read more

Meet our doctors

Everything we do is focused on designing better care for our patients. With a network of 12 specialist oncology treatment centres across the UK, we provide the most up-to-date treatments and technology as standard.

We attract and retain some of the most experienced doctors in the country, who all have a passion for improving patient outcomes and specialise in the treatment of different types of cancer.

Meet our doctors

Search for a centre near you

Maidstone

17 Kings Hill Avenue, Kings Hill, West Malling, Kent, ME19 4UA

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Birmingham

Little Aston Hall Drive, Sutton, West Midlands, Coldfield B74 3BF

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Nottingham

The Park Cancer Centre, Sherwood Lodge Drive, Burntstump Country Park, Notthingham, NG5 8RX

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Portsmouth

Portsmouth, Bartons Road, Havant, Hampshire, PO9 5NA

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Guildford

BMI St Martha Oncology Centre, 46 Harvey Road, Guildford, Surrey, GU1 3XL

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Southampton

Southampton Centre, Chalybeate Close (off Tremona Road), Southampton, SO16 6UY

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Chelmsford

Springfield Cancer Centre, Lawn Lane, Chelmsford, Essex, CM1 7GU

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Elstree

Unit 710, Centennial Park, Elstree, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, WD6 3SZ

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Oxford

Sandy Lane West, Peters Way, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX4 6LB

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Milton Keynes

Sunrise Parkway, Linford Wood East, Milton Keynes, BuckinghamShire, MK14 6LS

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Newmarket

The Oaks, Fordham Road, Newmarket, Suffolk, CB8 7XN

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Windsor

69 Alma Road, Windsor, Berkshire SL4 3HD

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