The disease mainly affects people over 60 years old, although the exact cause of the cancer isn’t known.
Bowel cancer symptoms include a persistent abdominal pain, or a change in bowel habit.
Finding blood in your stool may also be a sign of the deadly condition.
But, haemorrhoids (or piles) could also lead to rectal bleeding. So, how can you tell the difference?
More often than not, blood in your stool is caused by haemorrhoids, according to Cancer Research UK.
The main difference is found in the colour of the blood.
Haemorrhoid blood is usually bright red, and appears fresh.
But, cancer blood originates higher up in the bowel, and tends to appear dark red or black.
It’s always important to have any rectal bleeding checked by a GP, the charity added.
“Piles are like swollen veins in the back passage,” said Cancer Research UK.
“These veins are fragile and can easily get damaged when you pass a bowel motion, causing a little bleeding.
“Blood from higher up in the bowel doesn’t look bright red. It goes dark red or black and can make your bowel motions look like tar.
“This type of bleeding can be a sign of cancer higher up the bowel. Or it could be from a bleeding stomach ulcer, for example.”
Your doctor will never thing you’re wasting their time if you’re worried about rectal bleeding.
You should see a GP you’ve had persistent bowel cancer symptoms for four weeks.
But, you should go to A&E, or dial 999, if you’re bleeding non-stop, or if there’s a lot of blood.
For example, if the toilet water turns red, or if you see large blood clots in your stool.
Your doctor will usually carry out a simple rectal exam to assess your risk of bowel cancer and other conditions.
While the test can be uncomfortable, it’s usually over within a single minute, the NHS said.