Bowel & Cancer Research is a national charity that funds the best science into bowel cancer and other bowel diseases anywhere in the UK and invests in the next generation of experts with support for PhD students. For Gut Week 2016 their Communications Officer Amy, who has watched two family members go through bowel cancer, blogs about the disease: spotting signs, getting checked and challenging taboos.

5 Things Everyone Should Know About Bowel Cancer

Did you know that your gut is the same length as a double decker bus, about 30ft or 9m? That’s a lot of space in our body that needs to be healthy in order to keep everything running smoothly. Yet many of us don’t think about what happens on the inside when we really should.

Bowel cancer is the 2nd biggest cancer killer, with 41,000 people a year diagnosed with the disease. That’s one person every 15 minutes.

The good news is that bowel cancer is very survivable, with 9/10 people being successfully treated if it is caught at an early stage.


At Bowel & Cancer Research, we want to help everyone put the wheels in motion early and ensure that we stop bowel cancer as soon as possible, or even prevent in the first place.

Here are 5 things everyone should know about bowel cancer:

  • These are the main symptoms of bowel cancer:

  • Some of these symptoms are shared with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD – Chron’s and Colitis). However, if you have them for a period of a few weeks or more then go to your GP to get checked.
  • Not everyone will show symptoms, so screening is important. The NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme sends a kit to you, which detects small traces of blood in poo, often invisible to the naked eye. This can be done quickly in the comfort and private of your own home and then sent back for examination. In the case that blood is found, you will be invited for further testing to determine the cause.


bowel screening



  • When you get a screening kit in the post, DO IT, it could save your life.
  • To find out who receives the NHS kit and how to request one, visit our bowel cancer screening page.
  • A survey for Gut Week 2015 revealed that 65% of Brits believe that talking about poo is a taboo topic but we need to make sure we remove the taboo and catch bowel cancer early.



  • As well as the 41,000 people a year diagnosed with bowel cancer, up to 620,000 live with IBD and IBS affects up to 1 in 5 people in their life.In other words you are not alone, many others will be experiencing similar symptoms and your doctor will be well prepared.
  • The research we fund is making sure that those diagnosed with bowel cancer have the best chance of survival through better treatments and a greater understanding of bowel cancer risk factors.For our latest projects including, obesity reversal, understanding inherited bowel cancer and reducing tumour growth in areas of low oxygen, see our Bowel & Cancer Research website.


At Bowel & Cancer Research, our vision is that

“No one should die of bowel cancer, have to live with chronic bowel disease or face life with a permanent stoma.”

So share this post with us on Twitter to raise awareness of the vital work we do.


To help us fund our life-saving work, you can make a donation online on our website.