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
  • 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. 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, about 1,000 of colorectal cancer patients die from the disease.


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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.

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What are the symptoms of bowel cancer?

Some of 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 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


Is cuid den tSeirbhís Náisiúnta Scagthástála é BowelScreen BowelScreen is part of the National Screening Service
Teach Óstaí an Rí, 200 Sráid Parnell, Baile Átha Cliath 1, Éire King’s Inns House, 200 Parnell Street, Dublin 1, Ireland
Saorghlao 1800 45 45 55 Freephone 1800 45 45 55

Is cuid den Rannóg Sláinte agus Folláine i bhFeidhmeannacht na Seirbhíse Sláinte í an tSeirbhís Náisiúnta Scagthástála. Cuimsíonn sí BreastCheck – An Clár Náisiúnta Scagthástála Cíoch, CervicalCheck – An Clár Náisiúnta Scagthástála Ceirbheacs, BowelScreen – An Clár Náisiúnta Scagthástála Putóige agus Diabetic RetinaScreen – An Clár Náisiúnta Scagthástála Reitiní do Dhiaibéitigh.

The National Screening Service is part of the Health and Wellbeing Division of the Health Service Executive in Ireland. 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.