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Bowel health

Changes in your bowel can happen at any stage, so it’s important that you stay aware of your bowel health.

  1. Good bowel health
  2. What is bowel cancer?
  3. Risk of bowel cancer
  4. What are the symptoms of bowel cancer?

Good bowel health

Looking after your bowel health is important and the following tips are recommended:

  • Be more physically active
  • Eat a diet with plenty of dietary fibre such as fruit, vegetables and wholegrain bread, brown rice and cereals
  • Reduce intake of processed and red meat
  • Keep a healthy weight
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you take
  • When rolled out, take part in the BowelScreen programme every two years

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What is bowel cancer?

Bowel cancer is also known as colon, rectal or colorectal cancer. It affects the lower part of the digestive system (gut). Bowel cancer is the second most common form of cancer among men and women in Ireland.

Bowel cancer in Ireland

In Ireland, bowel (or colon, rectal or colorectal) cancer is the second most common newly diagnosed cancer among men and women. Each year over 2,000 new cases of colorectal cancer are reported. The number of new cases is expected to increase significantly over the next 10 years, due mainly to an increasing and ageing population.

Bowel cancer is currently the second most common cause of cancer death in Ireland, and about 50 per cent of colorectal cancer patients die from the disease.

Screening aims to find bowel cancer at an early stage when it is easier to treat.

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Risk of bowel cancer

The risk of bowel cancer increases with age. All men and women aged 60 to 69 living in Ireland should be screened. The new programme, BowelScreen will offer free bowel screening every two years to men and women aged 60 to 69 as this age group has the highest incidence of cancer within the wider age range. Over time the programme will be offered to all people aged 55 to 74.

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What are the symptoms of bowel cancer?

The most common symptoms of bowel cancer are:

  • a change in your bowel habits such as going to the toilet more often or diarrhoea that lasts for a number of weeks
  • bleeding from the back passage (also known as the rectum) for no obvious reason
  • pain in your abdomen (tummy)
  • a lump in your tummy
  • loss of weight when you’re not trying to lose weight

A number of conditions can cause these symptoms. If you have one or more of these symptoms for four weeks or more, or you are worried about your bowel health you should see your GP (family doctor) immediately.

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Remember good bowel health is important

 

BowelScreen is part of the National Cancer Screening Service
Address: BowelScreen - The National Bowel Screening Programme,
The National Cancer Screening Service, King's Inn House, 200 Parnell Street, Dublin 1.
Freephone Information Line: 1800 45 45 55

The National Cancer Screening Service is part of the Health Service Executive National Cancer Control Programme. It encompasses BreastCheck - The National Breast Screening Programme, CervicalCheck - The National Cervical Screening Programme, BowelScreen - The National Bowel Screening Programme and Diabetic RetinaScreen - The National Diabetic Retinal Screening Programme.

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