Bowel cancer symptoms: Has your bowel movement changed? The red flag signs when on loo

Deborah James leaves hospital after bowel cancer surgery

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Also known as colon or rectal cancer, bowel cancer begins in your large bowel. This type is considered to be one of the “most common” in the UK, with almost 43,000 new diagnoses each year. Fortunately, picking up the condition early on could mean that treatment will be able to target it and even stop it from coming back.

The bowel describes the part of your digestive system which plays a part in breaking down food and helping it move out of your system.

The location of bowel cancer means that warning signs can appear in your tummy or when you go to the toilet.

And one thing to keep an eye out for is your bowel movement.

The NHS explained that changes in bowel habits belong to the three main symptoms of bowel cancer.

This sign can present as having to poo more often or the consistency of your stool changing, for example, it can become runny.

Bowel Cancer UK explained: “Tell your GP if you have noticed any persistent and unexplained changes in your bowel habit, especially if you also have bleeding from your back passage. 

“You may have looser poo and you may need to poo more often than normal.

“Or you may feel as though you’re not going to the toilet often enough or you might feel as though you’re not fully emptying your bowels.”

Any of these red flag signs that persist for three weeks or more warrant seeing a GP.

However, these aren’t the only symptoms of bowel cancer. 

Other warning signs that could help you spot the condition include:

  • Persistent blood in your poo (that happens for no obvious reason or is associated with a change in bowel habit)
  • Persistent lower abdominal (tummy) pain
  • Bloating 
  • Discomfort.

The last three signs are always caused by eating and might be also accompanied by a loss of appetite or weight loss.

The health service added that while these signs can be pointing to bowel cancer, people suffering from them don’t necessarily have the condition.

This is because other health problems can also present with these warning signs.

From haemorrhoids to the type of food you ate, many other factors and conditions can cause the same issues. 

What causes bowel cancer?

While the exact cause of the condition is unknown, there are plenty of things that could be raising your risk.

Some of them, including family history and age, can’t be affected. However, others, such as your lifestyle habits, can be switched up.

To lower your risk of bowel cancer, you should ensure you get enough fibre in your diet while cutting back on red and processed meat.

Alcohol and smoking are also not advisable as both of these activities can increase your chances of bowel cancer.


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