What are bowel cancer’s symptoms and signs, how do you get treatment for the condition and is there a test?

But, The Sun ran the No Time 2 Lose campaign urging to get you all talking about your insides and your number 2s, in a bid to beat bowel cancer – the 2nd deadliest form of the disease in the UK.

What is bowel cancer?

Bowel cancer, also known as colon cancer or colorectal cancer, is the fourth most common form of the disease in the UK, after breast, prostate and lung cancers.

It's the UK's 2nd deadliest cancer – after lung – claiming 16,000 lives a year, but it CAN be cured – if it's caught early enough.

Fewer than one in ten people survive bowel cancer if it's picked up at stage 4, but detected quickly, more than nine in ten patients will live five years or longer.

That's why The Sun wants to see a simple poo test offered to everyone, every two years, from their 50th birthday.

Is there currently a test for bowel cancer?

At the moment, Brits are subject to a postcode lottery, with those living in Scotland screened from 50.

Meanwhile, south of the border in England, and in Wales and Northern Ireland, those tests aren't offered until 60 – resulting in thousands of needless deaths.

But screening is one aspect of catching this disease early. It is vital every Brit knows what the red-flag symptoms of bowel cancer actually are – and act on them if they are worried.


THE Sun's No Time 2 Lose campaign is calling for bowel cancer screening in England to start at 50 NOT 60.

The move could save more than 4,500 lives a year, experts say.

Bowel cancer is the second deadliest form of the disease, but it can be cured if it's caught early – or better still prevented.

Caught at stage 1 – the earliest stage – patients have a 97 per cent chance of living for five years or longer.

But catch it at stage 4 – when it's already spread – and that chance plummets to just seven per cent.

In April, Lauren Backler, whose mum died of the disease at the age of 55, joined forces with The Sun to launch the No Time 2 Lose campaign, also supported by Bowel Cancer UK and Beating Bowel Cancer. Donate here.

Lauren delivered a petition to the Department of Health complete with almost 450,000 signatures, to put pressure on the Government to make this vital change – one that could save thousands of lives every year, and the NHS millions.

We all deserve an equal chance to beat this disease, regardless of where we live.

We know bowel cancer is more likely after the age of 50 – so it makes sense to screen from then.

Plus, it's got to save the NHS money in the long-run, catching the disease before patients need serious and expensive treatments.

It's a no brainer, thousands of lives are at stake every year.

You can still sign Lauren's petition to show your support – click HERE to add your signature.


What are the red-flag signs of bowel cancer?

The five red-flag symptoms of bowel cancer include:

  • bleeding from the back passage, or blood in your poo
  • a change in your normal toilet habits – going more frequently for example
  • pain or a lump in your tummy
  • extreme tiredness
  • losing weight

Tumours in the bowel typically bleed, which can cause a shortage of red blood cells, known as anaemia. It can cause tiredness and sometimes breathlessness.

In some cases bowel cancer can block the bowel, this is known as a bowel obstruction.

Other signs of bowel cancer include:

  • gripping pains in the abdomen
  • feeling bloated
  • constipation and being unable to pass wind
  • being sick
  • feeling like you need to strain – like doing a number two – but after you've been to the loo

While these are all signs to watch out for, experts warn the most serious is noticing blood in your stools.

But, they warn it can prove tricky for doctors to diagnose the disease, because in most cases these symptoms will be a sign of a less serious disease.


BBC newsreader reveals his battle with the disease

In January 2018 BBC newsreader George Alagiah revealed he was once again battling bowel cancer after four years in remission.

The 62-year-old said: "My brilliant doctors are determined to get me back to a disease-free state and I know they have the skill to do just that.

"I learned last time around how important the support of family and friends is and I am blessed in that department.

"I genuinely feel positive as I prepare for this new challenge."

George is facing stage 4 cancer which means the disease has spread to other organs.

When was Andrew Lansley's diagnosis?

Lord Andrew Lansley said he was diagnosed with stage three bowel cancer last year.

He said that he was "lucky" that his cancer was spotted after back pain and "nagging" from his wife persuaded him to see his GP.

The former health secretary's tumours have not spread to his liver, giving him "every reason to hope to be among the more than half of cancer patients who can look forward to long-term survival", he said.

Andrew said that if a "bowelscope" scheme had been enacted as planned, he would have automatically been called in for screening.

The scheme to detect signs of cancer at age 55 was intended to be rolled out across England by the end of 2016, but fell foul of cuts to Health Education England (HEE) imposed by the Treasury in 2014.

The Conservative politician claimed 3,000 lives a year could be saved by it as the disease is curable if diagnosed early.

He previously suffered a stroke in 1992 while playing cricket.

How common is bowel cancer?

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common form of the disease in the UK.

There are around 290,000 people living with the disease, and more than 41,000 new cases are diagnosed each year, according to Bowel Cancer UK.

More than nine in every ten new cases (94 per cent) are diagnosed in people over the age of 50, and nearly six in every ten cases are diagnosed in people over the age of 70.

But, experts warn bowel cancer can affect anyone, regardless of their age.

More than 2,400 new cases are diagnosed in people under 50 each year.

One in 14 men and one in 19 women will develop bowel cancer in their lifetimes.

What are the risk factors of bowel cancer?

Scientists do not know the cause of most forms of bowel cancer, but they do know a series of factors that can increase a person's risk of the disease.

Some of these things are just a fact of life – age and genetics for example.

But, others are lifestyle factors that can be changed and improved.

You're at greater risk of bowel cancer if you have one or more of the following risk factors:

  • you're aged over 50
  • you have a strong family history of the disease – eg. a parent, sibling or child diagnosed with bowel cancer before the age of 50, or two or more relatives diagnosed at any age or one or more relative with a known genetic condition linked to bowel cancer
  • a history of non-cancerous growths, known as polyps, in your bowel
  • long-term inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis
  • type 2 diabetes
  • an unhealthy lifestyle – you smoke, are overweight or obese and do not get enough exercise

Can bowel cancer be treated?

Bowel cancer is treatable and can be cured, particularly if it is diagnosed early enough.

Some also turn to alternative treatments – including one man who is following research that suggested human breast milk may help kill off cancerous cells.

More than nine out of 10 people with stage 1 bowel cancer – the least serious form – survive five years or longer after they are diagnosed.

However, this survival rate does drop significantly the longer a person has the disease before diagnosis.

The number of people dying from bowel cancer each year has been falling since the 1970s.

Around 15,903 people die from the disease in the UK each year – making it the most common cause of death from cancer in the country after lung cancer.

For more information visit Bowel Cancer UK.


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