Your risk of bowel cancer increases with age, as the average age of diagnosis is about 70.The exact cause of bowel cancer isn’t known, but there is believed to be a genetic link to a small number of cases, as those with a family history are more likely to develop it themselves.

If you have a first-degree relative (a member of your immediate family) diagnosed before the age of 45 or two immediate family members affected by the condition, you should talk to your GP about genetic screening to see if you’re at risk. Keep a record of your family health history.

Diet is also a key factor identified by scientists. Low-fibre, high-fat diets are thought to have increased the rates of bowel cancer. The NHS bowel cancer screening programme was introduced in 2006. It offers routine screening every two years to all men and women aged 60 to 69 (50 to 74 in Scotland).

People over 70 should have received their free screening kit, but if not call the NHS helpline and ask for the free postal testing kit: 0800 707 6060.

For those not eligible, GP’s can arrange for a screening, video of the painless procedure can be found here: