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Bowel Cancer - Medical Panel

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Expert:- Dr. John Ball

About Bowel Cancer (or known as colorectal cancer)

"Cancer of the bowel is when cells in the bowel change and affect how the bowel works normally.

The main symptoms of bowel cancer are a change in your normal bowel motion, blood in your stools, pain or discomfort in your tummy, weight loss.

Bowel cancer can be diagnosed by tests such as a rectal exam, colonoscopy, barium enema, CT colonography.

The main treatment for bowel cancer is surgery. Chemotherapy, radiotherapy or biological therapy may be used as well."

What is bowel cancer?

Bowel cancer happens when cells in the bowel change and start to grow quickly. They can form a tumour. A malignant tumour is also known as cancer. If a malignant tumour is not treated, it will affect how the bowel works. Most bowel cancers occur in the large bowel. Bowel cancer is also known as colorectal cancer or cancer of the colon and rectum.
How common is bowel cancer?

Bowel cancer can occur in men and in women. In Ireland it is the second most common cancer. In 2005, there were 2184 people diagnosed with it. It is also the second most common cause of cancer death in Ireland.

Why is it the second highest cause of death by cancer?

Over half of patients diagnosed will have caught it in the later stages of the disease.


1. Early detection is key however a recent survey has shown that 36% of people don't know the symptoms of bowel cancer (Irish Cancer Society) and 25% don't know the risk factors.

2. People can be embarrassed discussing bowel issues and movements with the doctor, which makes them put off being tested.

Bowel Cancer Warning Signs:-

. Change in bowel habits lasting more than a month
. Bleeding from the back passage
. Regular feeling of trapped wind or fullness in the stomach area
. Feeling as though there is something left to pass even after bowel movement
. Pain or discomfort in stomach area or back passage
. Weight loss for no apparent reason
. Ongoing tiredness or weakness.

Bowel Cancer Risk Factors:-

. Age
. Having a family history of bowel cancer
. Having a family history of polyps (abnormal growths of tissue in the lining of the bowel)
. Having a diet which is high in fat and low in fruit, vegetables and fibre
. Lack of physical activity
. Obesity
. Alcohol
. Smoking

Are these not conditions that you would see regularly?

These symptoms can also be due to complaints other than bowel cancer. But do get them checked out by your doctor, especially if they go on for more than 4 to 6 weeks.

How is bowel cancer diagnosed ?

First visit your family doctor (GP) if you are worried about any symptoms. If your doctor has concerns about you, he or she will refer you to a hospital. There you will see a specialist who may arrange more tests. You may need some of the following tests:

. Rectal exam
. Stool sample to check for hidden blood
. Special tests to look inside your bowel

Bowel Cancer The Facts:-

. Every year in Europe there are 400,000 people diagnosed with bowel cancer and 212,000 people didie from it. Bowel cancer is therefore the 2nd most common cause of cancer in Europe and it is the 2nd most common cause of death (Felix Burda Foundation, 2007).

. According to the most up-to-date figures from the National Cancer Registry of Ireland (NCRI) bowel cancer is the 2nd most common cancer in Ireland, with 2184 new cases in 2005.

. It is the 2nd most common cause of cancer death, with 924 deaths in 2005. These account for more than 12% of all cancer deaths.

. Between 1995 and 2005 the incidence of new cases of bowel cancer grew by 22% from 1,711 to 2,184.

. In Ireland there is a high incidence-to-mortality rate of approximately 1 death to every 2 cancer cases.
. Survival rates are low for bowel cancer at any stage (M=48% W="51"%).

. The lifetime risk of being diagnosed with bowel cancer is around 1 in 23 for women and 1 in 25 for men.

. In 2005, 80% of people diagnosed with bowel cancer were over the age of 60. 14% were aged between 50-59 years, 25% were between 60-69 years, 34% were aged between 70-79 years and 21% were over the age of 80 years.