Colorectal cancer

In the UK, about 27,000 people develop colon cancer each year, and about 14,000 people develop cancer of the rectum.

Like most types of cancer, bowel cancer is more common in older people. More than 80% of bowel cancers (8 in 10) are diagnosed in people over 60.

Symptoms of colorectal cancer

The symptoms of colorectal (bowel) cancer may include:

  • blood in, or on, your stools (bowel motions) - the blood may be bright red or dark
  • a change in your normal bowel habit, such asdiarrhoea or constipation, that happens for no obvious reason and lasts longer than three weeks
  • unexplained weight loss
  • pain in the tummy (abdomen) or back passage
  • feeling that you haven't emptied your bowel properly after a bowel motion
  • unexplained tiredness.

Sometimes, the cancer can cause a blockage (obstruction) in the bowel. The person may feel constipated and bloated, be sick (vomit) and have tummy pain.

Although these symptoms can be caused by conditions other than bowel cancer, you should always have them checked by your doctor.

If you have symptoms that don't improve within a few weeks, or if your symptoms get worse, it's important that you're referred to a specialist for tests to find out what the problem is.

*Information provided by Macmillan cancer support