Bowel Cancer

Bowel cancer is a term used to describe cancer in the colon, rectum or the small bowel.

The symptoms of bowel cancer can include:

  • Bleeding from the back passage (rectum) or blood in your stools
  • A change in normal bowel habits to diarrhoea or looser stools, lasting longer than 4 to 6 weeks
  • A lump that your doctor can feel in your back passage or abdomen (more commonly on the right side)
  • A feeling of needing to strain in your back passage (as if you needed to pass a bowel motion)
  • Losing weight
  • Pain in your abdomen or back passage
  • A lower than normal level of red blood cells (anaemia)

Because bowel tumours can bleed, cancer of the bowel often causes a shortage of red blood cells. This is called anaemia and may cause tiredness and sometimes breathlessness.

Bowel cancer screening

How do I get a screening kit?

Your next poo could save your life

We are supporting a London-wide campaign to encourage more patients to do their free NHS bowel cancer screening home test, which checks if you could have bowel cancer.

People who are the right age are sent a free NHS FIT (Faecal Immunochemical Test) kit every two years. You use it to collect a small sample of poo and post it back to an NHS lab.

The campaign by NHS London, “Your next poo could save your life”, urges more people to use their kit – a message we wholeheartedly endorse.

Screening can help prevent bowel cancer and find it at an early stage when it’s easier to treat. People who complete their screening are 25% less likely to die of bowel cancer.

The kits are for people with no symptoms and most people get the all-clear.

If you are aged 56, 58 (on or after 16 May 2022) or 60 to 74 and we have your correct address, you will be sent a kit every 2 years. Please use it. By April 2025, bowel cancer screening kits will be for everyone aged 50 to 74 in England.

To find out more and hear from other Londoners about their experience of bowel cancer screening, visit www.healthylondon.org/bcs

If you have symptoms of bowel cancer which last for three weeks or more, please contact the practice and ask for an appointment.