Bowel or colorectal cancer is a serious disease affecting the rectum and large intestine. It involves abnormal or uncontrolled cell growth that can develop into malignant tumours that invade other tissues and organs – making detection, diagnosis, and even treatment tricky.

Understanding the underlying factors contributing to its development, recognising the early warning signs, and exploring the various diagnostic and treatment approaches available can equip you with valuable knowledge to better navigate this disease.

Rapid test kits are an easy-to-use option for home testing. Making it easy to clear your doubts and deciding on a medical consultation.

What Is Bowel Cancer?

Bowel cancer develops when abnormal cells in the lining of the colon or rectum start growing and multiplying uncontrollably. Over time, these cancerous cells can form a tumour, which may invade nearby tissues and, if not treated early, spread to other parts of the body. Bowel cancer is a serious condition that requires prompt medical attention and appropriate treatment. Being conscious of the risk factors, symptoms, and available screening methods to detect bowel cancer early and improve the chances of successful treatment is crucial.

Causes Of Bowel Cancer 

When it comes to bowel cancer, understanding its causes is crucial for prevention and early detection. While the exact factors leading to bowel cancer are not fully known, several identified risk factors can contribute to its development. Here are some of the common causes:

Age. The chance of bowel cancer increases with age, particularly after reaching the age of 50.

Family History and Genetics. Having close relatives who have had bowel cancer can increase the risk.

Unhealthy Lifestyle. A diet with highly processed meats and low fibre, lack of physical activity, obesity, smoking, poor lifestyle choices and excessive alcohol consumption can elevate the risk.

Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. Long-term inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease can elevate the probability of developing bowel cancer.

While these risk factors don’t guarantee the development of bowel cancer, being aware of them allows individuals to make informed decisions and take necessary steps to minimise their risk. Adopting a healthy lifestyle, undergoing regular screenings, and maintaining a proactive approach to your health, can have an active role in reducing the likelihood of bowel cancer and promoting overall well-being.

Symptoms Of Bowel Cancer

Recognising the symptoms of bowel cancer is crucial for early detection and effective treatment. Notably, symptoms can vary depending on the cancer stage. Here are some common early and late-stage symptoms of bowel cancer:

Early-Stage Symptoms

  • Alterations in bowel patterns, such as ongoing diarrhoea or constipation.
  • Blood in the stool or rectal bleeding
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Experiencing the urge to pass stool even after completely evacuating the bowels

Late-Stage Symptoms

  • Persistent abdominal pain or cramping
  • Intense fatigue and weakness
  • Anaemia, resulting in dizziness and shortness of breath
  • A prominent change in the size or shape of the stools
  • Unexplained appetite loss
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)

Please remember that these indicators may also point to other, less significant ailments. Nevertheless, if you persistently feel any of these symptoms, it is crucial to seek guidance from a healthcare practitioner for a comprehensive assessment. Early detection of bowel cancer greatly improves the chances of successful treatment and long-term survival.

Diagnosis Of Bowel Cancer

Accurate and timely diagnosis plays a critical role in effectively managing bowel cancer. Medical experts utilise various diagnostic techniques to ascertain the existence and severity of the disease, enabling them to formulate a suitable treatment strategy. Let’s explore some common approaches used in the diagnosis of bowel cancer in more detail:

Physical Examination 

A healthcare provider thoroughly examines the abdomen and rectum during a physical examination, checking for any palpable lumps, tenderness, or other abnormalities.

Medical History And Symptoms 

A detailed discussion about the patient’s medical history, including any family history of bowel cancer, and a comprehensive assessment of symptoms helps understand the context and potential risk factors.

Blood Tests 

Blood tests are conducted to check for specific markers or abnormalities that may indicate the presence of bowel cancer. These may include a CBC (complete blood count) to assess red and white blood cell counts and detect signs of anaemia, alongside evaluations to measure tumour marker levels like carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA).


A colonoscopy is a common and highly effective procedure for diagnosing bowel cancer. The procedure entails the insertion of a flexible tube equipped with a camera into the colon and rectum, allowing the doctor to visually examine the entire colon length. Any abnormal growths or polyps can be identified during the procedure and, if necessary, biopsied for further examination.


If any suspicious areas are found during a colonoscopy or other imaging tests, a tissue sample (biopsy) is taken for microscopic examination. The biopsy helps confirm the presence of cancer and provides valuable information about its characteristics, such as its type and stage.

Imaging Tests 

Imaging techniques like CT scans, MRI scans, or PET scans may be used to obtain detailed images of the colon and surrounding areas. These tests help evaluate the extent of the cancer, identify any potential spread (metastasis), and assist in staging the disease.

Screening Tests For Bowel Cancer:

These tests are designed to detect any signs of cancer before symptoms even appear.

One commonly used screening test is the faecal occult blood test (FOBT), which detects tiny amounts of blood in stool samples. Bowel Test Fecal Occult Blood (FOB) Rapid Test Kit can be helpful for the initial diagnosis.

These tests may not be the most pleasant experience, but they can save lives by catching cancer early. So if you’re over 50 or have a family history of bowel cancer, discuss with your doctor to determine the most appropriate screening test for your specific circumstances.

Treatment Options For Bowel Cancer 

Several options are available when treating bowel cancer, depending on the cancer stage, location, and individual patient factors. The primary objective of treatment is to eradicate or eliminate cancer cells, inhibit the spread of cancer, and enhance the patient’s overall survival. Now, let’s explore some of the typical treatment choices available for bowel cancer:


Surgery is the primary treatment for bowel cancer and involves removing the cancerous tissue from the colon or rectum. Depending on the stage and area of the cancer, different surgical procedures may be performed, such as a polypectomy, colectomy, or bowel resection.


Chemotherapy is to use powerful medications to destroy cancer cells or slow down their growth. It could be used before surgery to shrink tumours, after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells, or as the primary treatment for advanced or metastatic bowel cancer.

Radiation Therapy 

Using high-energy beams to specifically target and kill cancerous cells. It is commonly used with surgery or chemotherapy to treat rectal cancer or relieve symptoms caused by advanced cancer.

Targeted Therapy 

Targeted therapy involves using drugs that specifically target certain molecules or genes involved in the growth and spread of cancer cells. These medications can effectively treat advanced bowel cancer with specific genetic mutations.


Immunotherapy boosts the body’s immune system to recognise and attack cancer cells. Researchers are investigating immunotherapy as a potential treatment for bowel cancer. In certain cases, it has shown promising results. Doctors may use it in the late stages or as part of a clinical trial.

Palliative Care 

In cases where bowel cancer is advanced or not responsive to curative treatment, palliative care focuses on improving the patient’s quality of life, managing symptoms, and providing emotional support.

The choice of treatment options depends on several factors, including the stage of cancer, the patient’s overall health, and their preferences. Treatment plans are often personalised and may involve a combination of different approaches. Patients need to have open and informed discussions with their healthcare team to understand each treatment option’s potential benefits and risks.

Prevention Strategies For Bowel Cancer 

Preventing bowel cancer is of utmost importance for maintaining good health. While there are no foolproof guarantees, certain strategies can remarkably reduce the chance of developing the disease. Here are some effective prevention strategies for bowel cancer:

Healthy Diet 

Adopting a balanced and nutritious diet is vital in preventing bowel cancer. Emphasise a high-fibre intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Limit processed meats and red meats, which have been connected to an increased risk of bowel cancer.

Regular Physical Activity 

Combining regular physical activity into your routine can lower the likelihood of developing bowel cancer. Target a minimum of two and a half hours of aerobic exercises moderately each week and supplement them with strength training workouts. 

Maintain a Healthy Weight 

A balanced diet and consistent physical activity can support weight management, thereby lowering the likelihood of developing bowel cancer as a result of obesity.

Limit Alcohol Consumption 

Excessive alcohol consumption relates to an increased risk of bowel cancer. Limit alcoholic beverages and moderate consumption to reduce the risk.

Quit Smoking 

Smoking is a well-known reason for various cancers, including bowel cancer. Quitting smoking reduces the risk of bowel cancer and offers numerous other health benefits.

Regular Screening

Participating in regular screening programs for bowel cancer, such as faecal occult blood tests (FOBT) or colonoscopies, can aid in early detection and treatment.

Know Your Family History

Having a family history of bowel cancer, especially in close relatives, inform your healthcare provider. They might suggest conducting screenings earlier or at more frequent intervals to monitor your well-being.

While these prevention strategies cannot guarantee complete bowel cancer prevention, they can significantly reduce the risk and promote overall well-being. By adopting a healthy lifestyle, you can take proactive steps toward preventing bowel cancer and maintaining optimal health.

Wrap Up Note

Embracing a healthy way of life, encompassing a well-balanced diet, regular physical activity, and avoiding known risk factors can significantly lower the chances of developing bowel cancer. Additionally, participating in regular screenings and maintaining open communication with healthcare professionals is crucial for early detection and effective management of the disease.

Remember, prevention and early intervention are key in the fight against bowel cancer, ensuring a higher chance of successful treatment and improved long-term survival. Bowel Test Fecal Occult Blood (FOB) Rapid Test kits can be a better option for early diagnosis. You can clear your doubts in the comfort of your home.


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