Beating bowel cancer in 2024

Someone dies of bowel cancer every 30 minutes in the UK. It’s the second biggest cancer killer, but it shouldn’t be, because it’s treatable and curable. Nearly everyone diagnosed at the earliest stages will survive the disease.

Knowing the symptoms is so important – it really could save your life. Completing your bowel screening test is also so important, especially if you have no symptoms. You should complete it whenever you are asked to do so.

Screening saves lives

NHS bowel screening checks are free and are currently available to everyone aged 54 to 74 years. The programme is expanding to everyone aged 50 to 74. If you're 75 or over, you can ask for a kit every 2 years by phoning the free bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60.

You will automatically be sent a testing kit to do in the privacy of your own home. It’s quick, simple, and safe. If you receive a kit, put it by the loo, don’t put it off! Make sure you complete it and send it back. Encourage friends and family to do the same.

Screening can help prevent bowel cancer or find it at an early stage, when it's easier to treat. Visit the NHS bowel screening page and watch our animated video.

Symptoms of bowel cancer

North East London Cancer Alliance is helping ensure more people know the top 5 symptoms of bowel cancer.

The red flag symptoms of bowel cancer are: 

  1. Bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo
  2. A persistent and unexplained change in bowel habit
  3. Unexplained weight loss
  4. Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
  5. A pain or lump in your tummy

Most people with these symptoms won’t have bowel cancer. Other health problems can cause similar symptoms. But if you experience one or more of these, or if things just don’t feel right, contact your GP straight away.

For more information

Watch our animated bowel screening video:

This is also available in 15 different languages:

Listen to Alan Titchmarsh and Tommy Walsh talk about how your next poo could save your life:

Read our case study on how completing a bowel testing kit led to cancer being detected early and removed.

Hear from a patient who completed their bowel screening, which saved their life.