Bowel Cancer – Screening, Patient Information and useful links

Bowel Cancer

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What is bowel cancer?

  • Bowel cancer is cancer that’s found anywhere in the large bowel, which includes the colon and rectum.
  • The large bowel is part of your digestive system. It helps absorb water from your food and removes food waste from your body.
  • How serious bowel cancer is depends on how big the cancer is, if the cancer has spread, and your general health.
  • Bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the UK.
  • Bowel cancer screening can pick up bowel cancer early, which may mean it’s easier to treat.

Symptoms of bowel cancer

Main symptoms of bowel cancer

Symptoms of bowel cancer may include:

  • changes in your poo, such as having softer poo, diarrhoea or constipation that is not usual for you
  • needing to poo more or less often than usual for you
  • blood in your poo, which may look red or black
  • bleeding from your bottom
  • often feeling like you need to poo, even if you’ve just been to the toilet
  • tummy pain
  • bloating
  • losing weight without trying
  • feeling very tired for no reason

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

  • you have any symptoms of bowel cancer for 3 weeks or more

Try not to be embarrassed. The doctor or nurse will be used to talking about these symptoms.

Urgent advice: Ask for an urgent GP appointment or get help from NHS 111 if:

  • your poo is black or dark red
  • you have bloody diarrhoea

You can call 111 or get help from 111 online.

Immediate action required: Go to A&E or call 999 if:

  • you’re bleeding non-stop from your bottom
  • there’s a lot of blood, for example, the toilet water turns red or you see large blood clots

Find your nearest A&E


Some of these symptoms are very common and can be caused by other conditions.

Having the symptoms does not definitely mean you have bowel cancer, but it’s important to get checked by a GP.

If your symptoms are caused by cancer, finding it early may mean it’s easier to treat.

Help and support for bowel cancer

Where to find help and support

If you have bowel cancer, your specialist treatment team will be there to support you throughout your treatment. They will also be able to give you information about local support services you may find helpful.

There are also national cancer charities that can offer support and information about bowel cancer.

Bowel Cancer UK

Information and support for anyone affected by bowel cancer


Information and support for anyone affected by cancer.

Cancer Research UK

Information and support for anyone affected by cancer.

Marie Curie

Care and support for anyone affected by terminal illness

More in Bowel cancer

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