Men and women are equally affected by bowel cancer (colorectal cancer). The cancer ideally needs to be detected before it has had a chance to move to the lymph glands. Therefore improved survival is dependent on the diagnosis and surgical treatment of early stage disease (no cancerous spread to the lymph glands or distant organs).
As one of the UK's leading expert in bowel cancer explains, "Most bowel cancers arise from pre-cancerous polyps, and that early detection of these polyps (screening) offers the opportunity to prevent bowel cancer developing and to treat the condition before it progresses to an advanced stage."
In his article for totalhealth, http://www.totalhealth.co.uk/clinical-experts/mr-austin-obichere/treatm…
Mr Austin Obichere at University College Hospital goes on to say, "A smaller proportion of bowel cancers are inherited and a detailed family history by the specialist is required to identify those who may be at risk of the disease."
Be aware of rectal bleeding and change of bowel habit
The presentation of bowel cancer may vary from no symptoms at all to worrisome complaints such as rectal bleeding, a change in bowel habit, weight loss and anaemia (low blood count). Sometimes an abdominal swelling arising from the colon may be felt by the patient or their doctor. Diagnosis is made by visualising the entire length of large bowel with a fibre optic camera (colonoscope) to locate the site of the tumour, and obtain tissue samples for confirmatory diagnosis. Sometimes it is not possible to complete the colonoscopy for technical reasons or the patient may be considered unfit for the procedure. In such circumstances, a barium enema or CT-pneumocolon / virtual colonoscopy are acceptable alternative methods of examining the large bowel.