Bowel cancer is a general term for cancer that begins in the large bowel. Depending on where the cancer starts, it is sometimes called 'colon cancer' or 'rectal cancer'.
Most bowel cancers develop from tiny growths inside the colon or rectum called 'polyps', which look like small spots on the bowel lining or like cherries on stalks. Not all polyps become cancerous. If polyps are removed, the risk of bowel cancer is reduced.
Symptoms of bowel cancer include blood in your stools (faeces), an unexplained change in your bowel habits, such as prolonged diarrhoea or constipation, and unexplained weight loss. People with symptoms of bowel cancer or who have a family history of bowel cancer should consult their doctor as soon as possible.
Source: National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (Bowel Cancer - the facts)
Last reviewed: July 2015