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Bowel Cancer

    Causes, symptoms, treatments and lifestyle options


Bowel cancer forms in the tissues of the colon (the longest part of the large intestine) or rectum (the last several inches of the large intestine before the anus). It is commonly otherwise referred to as colorectal or colon cancer.

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Presenting symptoms: Blood in stools is the most commonly experienced colon cancer symptom, other symptoms may include abdominal pain and/or discomfort, pain in the back passage, unexplained weight loss, diarrhoea or constipation for no obvious reason (find out more).

UK incidence: At present, colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer in women after breast cancer whereas in men it comes as the third most common form of malignancy after prostate and lung cancer. Overall, the lifetime risk for men of being diagnosed with colorectal cancer is estimated to be one in eighteen and for women to be one in twenty. Every year, over 35,000 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the UK of which about two-thirds accounts for colon and one-third for rectal cancer.- read more

Types: Colorectal cancer comes in many forms. Most colorectal cancer are adenocarcinomas (cancer that originates in the glandular tissue). Type can be refer to the grade (how aggressive the cells look) or completely different type of cancer including the rare lymphoma, sarcoma, melanoma and neuroendocrine tumours (find out more).  

Risk factors: In most cases there are no predisposing risk factors but there is some evidence of associations with poor diet, smoking, excessive alcohol intake, family history of colorectal cancer, lack of exercise, high cholesterol, obesity (find out more).

Tests to determine a diagnosis and help decide on treatment options: rectal examination, Barium enema, proctoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy (find out more).

What determines treatment options & prognosis:

  • The stage (size and whether the cancer has spread)
  • The grade (how aggressive the cells look under a microscope)
  • Age and general health of the individual affected

Treatment options: Treatment may be classed as radical - aiming to cure or palliative - aiming to control symptoms. Options, often in combination include:

Helpful resources and links

Cancernet-UK: What is cancerAbout specific cancers; Breast | Prostate | Bowel.  About cancer treatments; Chemotherapy | Radiotherapy | Hormones | Biological agents | Complementary.  Lifestyle advice; Exercise | Diet | Smoking | Sunbathing | Alcohol.  Cope with symptomsTraveling | Insurance  | Tests for cancer | Clinical trials. ...site map
Micro-nutrient testing Empower yourself to make dietary choices specific to your personal make up. This Cancer Risk Nutritional Profile, analyses your blood profile and recommends specific dietary and supplement advice to ensure you have the best possible nutritional status to fight cancer an aid recovery from treatments....read more
Download a free chapter describing how to avoid cancer forming chemicals (Carcinogens) in our diet and environments  from the new edition of the best selling evidence based book    "Lifestyle after Cancer - the facts"
Make a will (or living will Cancernet has teamed up with a leading UK lawyer to drive down the cost of making a solicitor checked will.  This reliable, easy to use, online resource ensures your assets (money, property, jewellery, etc) go to the person you want and not those you least want. Cancernet-glossLegal wills start from 39....read more
Protect your lips during chemotherapy There is evidence that natural oil based creams are better than petroleum based creams. natureMedical lip balm has been specifically design to soothe and moisturise the lips during and after chemotherapy or after sun exposure. It only contains only natural waxes and essential oils selected for their anti-inflammatory and DNA stabilizing properties...read more/order
Protect your nails during chemotherapy. Nails can become painful and disfigured during and after chemotherapy. We describe the latest nail care guidelines and  number of useful tips to keep them healthy, including cooling and moisturizing ...read more 
Poems and cancer   Cancer is emotional and stressful time not only for the patients but friends and relatives. This emotional can inspire reflection, sentiment and creative writing and poetry. Hundreds of poems have been kindly submitted by users of cancernet. Caution: take a tissue some of these are real emotional bombshells!.. Read poems or...submit your own poem  
Lifestyle and cancer - the facts. This 2011, edition with a foreword from Paula Radcliffe has been extensively re-written with evidence from the latest research from around the world which demonstrates how diet, exercise and lifestyle changes can; help avoid cancer (read chapter 9 free), cope with treatments side effects; slow the rate of progression of cancer and help prevent  relapse.  This comprehensive essential lifestyle guidebook can be ordered online (8.95), or downloaded via kindle
Prepared for cancer treatments. Patients and professionals, teamed up with Sue Lawley to produce this 21 minute film which explains chemotherapy & radiotherapy while you watch patients, describing their experiences, side effects and methods to alleviate them. Awarded the NHS communication prize ...  read more / order individually or in bulk for your oncology department 
Keep-healthy.com Practical evidence based advice on healthy living including ways to naturally reduce cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, keep healthy eyesight, hearing, maintain a healthy weight and level of fitness. Includes advice on supplements and other useful products...link
Support groups and self help organisations throughout the UK and internationally. Links to Asian support organisations; Read patient stories, poems and links to the Cancer active website addressing a wide range of complementary issues related to cancer and their a quarterly magazine (ICON)..  submit a link to your group