Bowel Cancer Awareness Month
The Digestive System
The gastrointestinal or digestive tract (also known at the GI tract or gut) is the system of organs which remove and process nutrients (vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, proteins and water) from foods and helps pass waste material out of the body.
The gastrointestinal tract is made up of the oesophagus, stomach and the small and large intestines.
The oesophagus is the hollow muscular tube that moves food and liquid from the throat to the stomach. The wall of the oesophagus is made up of several layers of tissue, including mucous membrane, muscle and connective tissue.
The stomach is a J-shaped organ in the upper abdomen. The stomach helps in the digestion of food by mixing it with digestive juices and churning it into a thin liquid. After leaving the stomach, partly digested food passes into the small intestine and then into the large intestine.
The small intestine mainly absorbs nutrients from broken down food.
The colon (the first 1.8 metres of the large intestine) mainly absorbs water and the rectum and anal canal (the last 15 centimetres of the large intestine) stores waste material (faeces) until they are passed from the body through the anus.
The anal canal ends at the anus, the opening of the large intestine to the outside of the body.
The colon and rectum together are known as the large bowel.
Tests and investigations used in the diagnosis of bowel cancer
If your doctor suggests that you are referred for further investigations, this does not mean you have bowel cancer.
It means that further tests are needed to clarify what is causing your symptoms.
If you have several higher-risk symptoms which could be suspected bowel cancer, you should receive an urgent referral and have a colonoscopy within 30 days.
Date posted: Mon-Feb-2017