The bowel is the large intestine that houses our waste before it is passed out. It has three or four parts, the ascending, the transverse and the descending. The terminal part of the descending intestine is called the rectum.
The food we eat first goes into the small intestine from the stomach where its digestion is completed and absorption takes place. What is not absorbed then passes into the large intestine (bowel) as waste to be passed out.
1. Q. What is bowel cancer?
A. This is a form of cancer that affects the large intestines; it can be called colon cancer or colorectal cancer.
2. Q. How common is bowel cancer?
A. It is quite common. Bowel cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in both men and women globally. In 2010, an estimated 9 percent of the cancer deaths in women were due to bowel cancer.
3. Q. How likely am I to get bowel cancer?
A. Men are slightly more affected than women but it is not common before the age of 50 years.
4. Q. What are risk factors for bowel cancer?
A. The risk factors for bowel cancer include cigarette smoking, alcohol abuse, obesity, lack of physical activity, low fibre diet and high consumption of red meat.
5. Q. What are the symptoms of bowel cancer?
A. The symptoms of bowel cancer include blood in your stool, change in your bowel habit, abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss, or a lump in the abdomen. See your doctor if you notice any of these.
6. Q. When do I get screened for bowel cancer?
A. Regular biannual screening is advised from age 50 years until you are 75 years. After that age, the net benefit may be insignificant.
7. Q. How can I prevent bowel cancer?
A. You can prevent bowel cancer by avoiding smoking of cigarette, engaging in regular physical exercise and watching your weight via a healthy diet. Red meat is said to be associated with higher rate of bowel cancer, minimize its consumption; meanwhile a lot of fibre containing foods such as fruits, vegetables and some breakfast cereals are said to reduce the rate of bowel cancer. Daily intake of fruits and vegetables is therefore advised.