Bowel cancer usually refers to a malignant growth in the large bowel (colon or rectum) and is the second commonest cause of cancer related death (and the commonest in men who don't smoke). Bowel cancer affects both men and women with a sharp increase in incidence from the age of 50 years.
Fortunately bowel cancer is generally preventable by timely detection of its precursor, the colonic polyp. The polyp is a small, rounded growth protruding from the lining of the bowel which often looks like a pea or cherry. When smaller than a pea the polyp is often ignored and can be left in place for review by CT colonography in five years. However, when a polyp is larger, like a cherry, it tends to grow slowly and, over several years, transform into cancer. When we find a polyp , it can frequently be removed by a simple procedure using an endoscope passed into the bowel through the bottom.