Bowel cancer is the 4th most common form of cancer in the UK. To date, it is responsible for over 16,000 deaths each year. However, when detected early, patients with stage one cancer have approximately a 90% chance of survival. That’s why recognising the initial signs and symptoms of bowel cancer is critical in ensuring the best possible chance against the disease.
What is Bowel Cancer?
Bowel cancer is the name given to cancer that begins in the large bowel. It is also often referred to as colon or rectal cancer, depending on where the disease first starts. In rare cases, bowel cancer can begin in the small intestine, however it is far more common in the large bowel.
If you or a loved one are experiencing any of the below symptoms, see your GP as soon as possible:
Change in Bowel Habit
Persistent and unexpected changes in bowel movements can be a significant sign to watch out for. Your stools may be looser or you may be passing solids more often than normal. It is also common for people with the early stages of bowel cancer to feel as if they’re not going to the toilet enough, or that they’re not fully emptying their bowels when they do.
Bleeding/Blood in Stool
There are numerous potential causes of blood in your stool or bleeding from your bottom. Haemorrhoids (also known as piles) are painful swollen blood vessels which can cause bright red blood to seep from your back passage. However, darker red or black blood can come from the stomach or bowel, meaning that it is more likely to be a sign of bowel cancer. Seek medical advice if you experience any form of bleeding from your anus.
People with stage one bowel cancer may experience a lump or pain in their stomach or anus. This can lead to varying levels of discomfort as well as bloating brought on by eating. Patients may, in turn, experience weight loss due to sickness brought on by eating and a loss of appetite.
Extreme or Excessive Tiredness
This symptom is less common, however, colorectal cancer can lead to a lack of iron in the body which can result in an insufficient amount of red blood cells (also known as anaemia). Someone suffering from iron deficiency may also experience paler-looking skin.
If you’re worried you may have bowel cancer symptoms, regardless of their severity or your age, see a doctor as soon as possible. Testing for bowel cancer is often a very simple and painless procedure. More importantly, early detection of this disease really can be the difference in saving a life.
Keywords: bowel cancer, colorectal cancer, bowel cancer causes, bowel cancer risk