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Bowel cancer health centre

Bowel cancer overview

More than 41,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in the UK. When detected early, bowel cancer can be cured. Learn more about bowel cancer symptoms, screening, diagnosis – and the treatments: surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and biological therapy.

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New bowel cancer treatment tests

New tests to help doctors know whether bowel cancer treatments are likely to work have come a step closer to NHS funding in England.

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What is bowel cancer?

Inside your abdominal cavity is the long, tubular digestive tract. The second part of this tube -- the large intestine -- is composed of the colon, which stretches 120 cm to 180 cm (four to six feet), and the rectum, which is only 10 to 15 cm (four to six inches) long.

The inner lining of this "colorectal tube" can be a fertile breeding ground for small tumours, called polyps. By the age of 60, an estimated 30-40% of people will have at least one adenomatous polyp - that is, a polyp with potential to become malignant, in their colon. Most bowel (or colorectal) cancers develop from polyps in the glandular tissue of the intestinal lining.

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