About bowel cancer

What is the bowel?

The bowel is part of your digestive system. It is made up of two parts, the small bowel and the large bowel. The large bowel can be further divided into the ascending colon, transverse colon, descending colon, sigmoid colon, rectum and anus.

When you swallow food, it goes from the gullet (oesophagus) to the stomach and into the small bowel. Going through the small bowel, it is digested and nutrients are taken into the body. In the large bowel, water is absorbed from digested food.

The waste matter that is left is stored in the rectum (back passage) until ready to pass out of the body through the anus. This waste material is known as faeces or stools.

The Digestive System

What is bowel cancer?

Bowel cancer happens when cells in the bowel change and start to grow quickly. They can form a tumour. A malignant tumour is also known as cancer. If a malignant tumour is not treated, it will affect how the bowel works. Most bowel cancers occur in the large bowel. Bowel cancer is also known as colorectal cancer or cancer of the colon and rectum.

How common is bowel cancer?

Bowel cancer can occur in men and in women.It is estimated that 2,775 people in Ireland are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year. It is also the second most common cause of cancer death in Ireland.

Continue to Symptoms and diagnosis of bowel cancer

Date Last Revised: 
Friday, January 5, 2018