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National Bowel Screening Programme

Public Service, Gastroenterology & Hepatology (Liver), Cancer Network Group, Community Health, Oncology

Bowel cancer

Bowel cancer is also called colon, rectal or colorectal cancer.

Bowel cancer occurs when normal cells lining the inside of the bowel become abnormal and grow out of control. The cells can turn into a polyp (growth) and some polyps may eventually develop into cancer over a number of years.

It can take a long time before the cancer grows and spreads to other parts of the body.

Regular bowel screening, of people who are not experiencing any symptoms, provides an opportunity to find and treat bowel cancer at an early stage.

Common symptoms of bowel cancer may include:

  • a change to your normal pattern of going to the toilet that continues for several weeks
  • blood in your bowel motion.

Although these symptoms are usually caused by other conditions, it’s important to get them checked by your doctor. Do not wait to receive your screening test kit. 

Click here for information on what you can do to help reduce your risk of developing bowel cancer.

This page was last updated at 9:53AM on October 4, 2021.