What are the Symptoms of Bowel Cancer?
Wednesday 20 November 2013
Bowel cancer is the second most common cancer killer in the UK, and as with any cancer, the earlier it’s identified, the better the chances of successful treatment. For this reason, it’s important that people know what symptoms to look out for.
Bowel cancer: symptom checker
Those that are in the early stages of bowel cancer may have no symptoms at all. Equally, some people may suffer from the chief bowel cancer signs, but actually have a more minor medical condition that’s easily treated. Being more aware of your body and the way it functions can never be a bad thing, so your best bet is to know the symptoms and keep an eye out for abnormalities.
The initial bowel cancer symptoms:
- bleeding from your rectum or blood in stools
- a change to your normal bowel habits that last for more than three weeks, such as diarrhoea, constipation or passing stools more frequently than usual
- abdominal pain
- unexplained weight loss
The later stages of bowel cancer can involve bleeding inside the bowel, which eventually leads to anemia (a lack of red blood cells in the body), which can cause fatigue and breathlessness.
If the cancer is causing an obstruction in the bowel, it’s not uncommon to suffer from feelings of bloating, abdominal pain, constipation and vomiting, so these are also things to be mindful of.
What to check for and be aware of
It’s important to be aware of what’s ‘normal’ for your body; make a habit of becoming more familiar with the way your body reacts to different things, so anything out of the ordinary is easier to identify. A heightened awareness of the way your body functions can be incredibly useful when identifying a range of health issues, from the mild to the extreme.
Make sure you keep an eye on your bowel movements and the stools themselves. You may notice that you have had irregular stools for a few weeks, whether it’s constipation or diarrhoea. If these abnormalities that persist for over three weeks, make an appointment at your local doctor’s practice. If you find blood in the toilet after passing a stool, or when you wipe, then it’s also a good idea to visit your GP.
What to do if you have symptoms
Make sure you don’t panic unnecessarily – blood in your stools can simply be down to haemorrhoids (piles) or stomach ulcers, which are far easier to treat. The best idea is to be well informed, so if in doubt, arrange a trip to the doctors.
Watch a short video on how we helped one of our members.
What is the Beating Bowel Cancer campaign?
The Beating Bowel Cancer campaign works to raise awareness of symptoms, encouraging early diagnosis, whilst pushing for open access to treatments. It means that bowel cancer patients and their carers can be given the invaluable support that they need during a challenging time.
How can you get involved in Beating Bowel Cancer?
One way people can help is by taking part in Decembeard – the fundraiser that encourages people to grow, make or bake a beard during the last month of the year.
Those that participate in Decembeard help raise the money to provide support for those affected by bowel cancer, whilst helping to raise awareness in the process.
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