Bowel Cancer Awareness Month 2021

7th April 2021

As well as IBS Awareness Month, April marks Bowel Cancer Awareness Month too. Every day in the UK, 113 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer and 44 people die.

What is bowel cancer?

It is thought that all instances of bowel cancer starts off as a polyp. A polyp is an abnormal growth of tissue and they can grow anywhere in the body. When they grow in the bowel, most will remain benign but 1 in 10 will turn into cancer.

What are the symptoms of bowel cancer?

  • A change in bowel habit, such as unusual episodes of diarrhoea or constipation
  • An increase in the amount of mucus in the stool
  • Bowel cancer can enlarge causing partial or complete blockage of the bowel leading to abdominal pain, constipation and bloating
  • Unexplained weight loss is also a symptom

If you’ve had a persistent change of bowel habit for 4 weeks or longer, especially if you are over the age of 40, it’s important to speak with your GP.

Is bowel cancer a treatable cancer?

Bowel cancer is one of the more survivable cancers, but like all cancers, this depends on how early it is caught. Unfortunately, many bowel cancer deaths are preventable. When you receive your bowel screening kit (between 50-60 years old, depending on where you are in the UK), it’s important that you use this kit.

Guts UK is proud to be funding Professor Colin Rees’ COLO-COHORT study. We have effective screening tools (finding people before they develop symptoms) in the UK that can detect bowel cancer. However, these screening programmes only consider age and not other factors such as lifestyle or family history. Prof. Rees’ research is looking at developing a “risk stratification tool” to help determine which patients are at highest risk of having polyps or cancer, taking these other factors into account too.

113 people are diagnosed with colorectal (bowel) cancer in the UK every day, and 44 people die. If successful, this research could save lives.


  • Donate: Help the UK get to grips with guts by signing up to donate £3 a month to Guts UK.
  • Tell a friend: 1 in 4 people experience digestive symptoms at any one time. Tell a friend about Guts UK, raise the banner in your community or workplace – you never know who might benefit!
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