The bowel is a hollow muscular tube that plays a key part in our digestive system. Made up of the small bowel (small intestine) and the large bowel (colon), it has two primary functions [1]:

  • Help the body absorb nutrients and fluids from the foods we consume
  • Expel leftover waste from the body

See also: What Affects Bowel Function?

How the bowel works

The bowel is the lower part of the digestive system and is divided into the small bowel (small intestine) and the large bowel (colon); both of which have their own unique functions.

Small bowel

The small bowel, also known as the small intestine, is where the magic happens - by magic, we mean it’s where all the useful nutrients are absorbed from what you have consumed; it’s large inner surface area makes it ideal for absorption. The small bowel then delivers the waste to the large bowel [2].

Large bowel

The bowel, or colon, is a long muscular tubelike organ located in your abdomen. It consists of four parts: descending colon, ascending colon, transverse colon, and sigmoid colon.

It’s considered to have a number of functions, these include [3]:

  • Reabsorbing fluids
  • Processing waste products and prepare for their elimination
  • Moving leftover materials into the rectum

The American Cancer Society recommends that you start regular screening at the age of 45, or younger if you have a family history of bowel cancer. If you notice blood in your stool, it’s important to speak with a doctor.

LetsGetChecked’s at-home Bowel Cancer Screening Test can help identify the presence of cancerous or precancerous growths in the bowel by detecting blood that is invisible to the naked eye.

You should consider getting screened if:

  • You are experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms
  • You have a history of adenomas (benign tumors)
  • You have inflammatory bowel disease* (which includes Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis)
  • You have an inherited syndrome (e.g. Lynch syndrome/HNPCC or FAP)
  • You have type 2 diabetes
  • You have undergone radiation therapy

See also: How Can You Screen For Bowel Cancer From Home?


  1. Mayo Clinic. Bowel Function. Online:
  2. Mayo Clinic. Small Intestine. Online:
  3. Mayo Clinic. Colon. Online: