Bowel cancer is also called colorectal cancer. It affects the large bowel, which is made up of the colon and rectum.
Most bowel cancers develop from pre-cancerous growths, called polyps. But not all polyps develop into cancer. If your doctor finds any polyps, he or she can remove them to prevent them becoming cancerous.
Cancer cells may stay in the bowel, or they might spread to other parts of the body, like the liver or lungs.
How common is bowel cancer?
These numbers only give you a general idea of how bowel cancer affects the UK population:
Bowel cancer is treatable and curable especially if diagnosed early. Nearly everyone survives bowel cancer if diagnosed at the earliest stage. However, this drops significantly as the disease develops. Early diagnosis really does save lives.
More than 16,800 people die from bowel cancer in the UK every year. It’s the second biggest cancer killer in the UK. But the number of people dying of bowel cancer has been falling since the 1970s. This may be due to earlier diagnosis and better treatment.