Bowel Cancer UK is the UK’s leading bowel cancer charity, determined to save lives and improve the quality of life of everyone affected by bowel cancer. Its vision is a future where nobody dies of the disease.  

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK and the second biggest cancer killer (Bowel Cancer UK, 2022a). Nearly 43,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in the UK (Bowel Cancer UK, 2022b).  
The symptoms of bowel cancer can include:  
  • Rectal bleeding/blood in stools  
  • A persistent and unexplained change in bowel habit  
  • Unexplained weight loss  
  • Extreme fatigue  
  • A pain or lump in the abdomen.  


Those with one or more of the following risk factors are at greater risk of getting bowel cancer:  
  • Aged over 50  
  • Strong family history of bowel cancer  
  • A history of non-cancerous growths (polyps) in your bowel  
  • Longstanding inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis  
  • Type 2 diabetes  
  • An unhealthy lifestyle.  


Around 268,000 people living in the UK today have been diagnosed with bowel cancer (Bowel Cancer UK, 2022b).  

More than nine out of 10 new cases (94%) are diagnosed in people over the age of 50, and nearly six out of 10 cases (59%) are diagnosed in people aged 70 or over. But bowel cancer can affect anyone of any age. More than 2,600 new cases are diagnosed each year in people under the age of 50 (Bowel Cancer UK, 2022b). 

One in 15 men and one in 18 women will be diagnosed with bowel cancer during their lifetime (Bowel Cancer UK, 2022b).  


Bowel cancer is treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early. Indeed, nearly everyone survives bowel cancer if diagnosed at the earliest stage (Bowel Cancer UK, 2022b). However, this drops significantly as the disease develops. Early diagnosis really does save lives. More than 16,500 people die from bowel cancer in the UK every year. It is the second biggest cancer killer in the UK. But the number of people dying of bowel cancer has been falling since the 1970s. This may be due to earlier diagnosis and better treatment.  


Improving earlier diagnosis is a key priority for Bowel Cancer UK. An estimated nine in 10 people will survive bowel cancer if diagnosed at the earliest stage (Bowel Cancer UK, 2022a).  

Bowel Cancer UK are supporting primary care health professionals to increase the number of patients diagnosed at an earlier stage by providing education opportunities and raising awareness of the symptoms and the work of the charity.  


Bowel Cancer UK provides expert information and support for everyone affected by bowel cancer. It is also leading change for younger patients with bowel cancer, campaigning to improve survival and quality of life for those with advanced bowel cancer and working to improve early diagnosis by ensuring people are getting the right test at the right time. 
To join Bowel Cancer UK’s professional network,please visit:  


Bowel Cancer UK (2022a) Early diagnosis. Available online:   

Bowel Cancer UK (2022b) Bowel cancer. Available online: