Bowel cancer – the killer symptoms

Around one in 20 people develop bowel cancer. Almost 18 out of 20 cases of bowel cancer in the UK are diagnosed in people over the age of 60 which is why NHS Nene Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is asking people to look out for the early warning signs.

April supports Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and aims to raise awareness of the symptoms of bowel cancer. The symptoms can be subtle and don't necessarily make someone feel ill.

It's not known exactly what the cause is, but there are a number of things that can increase a person's risk such as being aged 60 or over, a diet high in red meats and low in fibre, being overweight and a smoker.

Symptoms of bowel cancer are common in 90% of people having one of the following combinations of symptoms:

  • A persistent change in bowel habit – going more often
  • Blood in stools
  • Abdominal pain, discomfort or bloating always brought on by eating

Dr Matthew Davies, Medical Director at NHS Nene CCG, said:  

“Bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in the UK. Getting an early diagnosis is so important and this can be done in your GP surgery by a simple examination, known as a digital rectal examination. This is a useful way of checking whether there are any lumps or abnormal activity going on.

“With more awareness of the signs and symptoms we hope that more people will be diagnosed earlier. There are diet and lifestyle factors that can affect any cancers, such as smoking and diet, and these are the factors that we recommend changing.”

For more information on bowel cancer, please visit