About the bowel | Coping physically | Cancer Research UK

About the bowel

The intestine is the lower part of the digestive system. The digestive system is besides called the gut or gastrointestinal nerve pathway ( or the GI tract or GIT for abruptly ) .
The intestine goes from the stomach to the back passage ( anus ). It is a hollow muscular tube. It processes all the food we eat and breaks it down into nutrients for the body to use. It besides gets rid of any solid thriftlessness matter from the body as poo ( besides called faeces or stools ).

The intestine is divided into the small intestine ( or small intestine ) and the big intestine ( colon and rectum ) .
Diagram showing the parts of the digestive system
Most of the intestine problems caused by cancer are related to the big intestine. It is less common to get problems related to the minor intestine .

What affects the bowel

How your intestine works is affected by a numeral of unlike things :

Muscles and nerves

The nerves and muscles in your back passage aid you have normal intestine movements. so if discussion or illness damages these nerves or muscles, you might have some difficulty passing your poo .
The muscles in your pot ( abdomen ) and your intestinal muscles besides play a part in moving the poo down into your rectum .

Eating and drinking

What you eat affects your intestine motions. Eating a diet high in fiber with lots of newly fruit and vegetables helps to keep your poo indulgent and regular .
Remember to drink enough of water if you are eating more fiber. Fibre draw water system into the intestine so you could get dehydrated if you don ’ thyroxine drink enough.

You need a sealed measure of fluid in your body for your intestine to work properly. If you don ’ t have enough fluid you can get dehydrated. This can make it difficult to pass poo. So it is important to drink batch of water ( about 6 to 8 glasses ) of water each day .


A miss of daily exercise can reduce the muscle tone in your abdomen and intestine ( intestines ). This slows down the motion of poo through the gut. So taking regular use helps to keep your intestine working by rights .
Ways of increasing daily exercise could include using the step quite than the face-lift, or getting off the bus one or two stops early .


As we get older, the way our intestine works tends to change. Bowel problems are more common in older people. As we age we can become less active and our diet may change. This can have an shock on intestine routine .

Other conditions

Conditions early than cancer can change the room your bowels work. This can include inflammatory intestine disease, piles ( haemorrhoids ) and infections. With the right treatment, your doctor of the church can normally help control these conditions .

What is a normal bowel habit?

How much you have a intestine movement can vary from person to person. Normal for some people can mean having a poo a few times a day, for others it might mean having a poo a few times a week .
You can normally think of your intestine habit as normal if you :

  • have regular bowel movements (not necessarily once a day)
  • don’t have ongoing symptoms of constipation or diarrhoea
  • can have a bowel movement without straining or using laxatives

How cancer treatment affects the bowel

constipation and diarrhea are common english effects of many drugs used as cancer treatments. Your doctor or nurse will talk to you about the english effects of any new drugs they prescribe for you .
radiotherapy to the pelvic area or to the back passage ( rectum ) can cause diarrhea. This normally comes on concisely after the treatment starts and lasts for a few weeks after the class of treatment ends. Your doctor or nurse might give you medicines to slow down your intestine and try to prevent diarrhea .
Let your checkup team know if you notice any of these side effects. They will be able to give you advice about how to treat them .

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