In the United States, it remains the fifth most common cancer to be diagnosed, but still the second most common cause of cancer deaths too. It is estimated that worldwide, nearly 700,000 people die from this cancer alone every year!
If diagnosed early, it can be cured. Screening remains the best way of preventing such death especially in those at risk!
But what is cancer of the bowel, and how can one tell if he has this illness? Can I avoid the causes of this disease? What tests can be done and can I be sure I am getting the best treatment? What are the stages of this cancer? Is there help for someone diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer?
The bowels actually refer to the small and large intestines, called small and large bowel respectively.
The Small intestines is made up of the part of the gut after the stomach referred to as the duodenum, jejunum and ileum. This is the part of the gut where digestion of food actually takes place.
The large intestines on the other hand, is the region of the gut starting from the appendix, ascending colon, transverse colon, descending colon, sigmoid colon and rectum. This is where the undigested food is stored, while it at the same time passes down to be passed out as faeces. It is where water is absorbed from the undigested food. This part of the gut is shown in the picture above, superimposed on the abdomen.
Strictly speaking, it is this region of the gut that is referred to as the bowel in the use of the term bowel cancer.
So, cancer of the bowel refers to cancer developing in any part of the rectum, colon (sigmoid, descending, transverse,or ascending region), or appendix.
The rectum is the most common site that is affected by bowel cancer (40 percent), followed by the sigmoid colon (20 percent).
No wonder this disease is also called colo-rectal (colorectal), cancer or cancer of the colon.