Possible signs of bowel cancer include a change in bowel habit or blood in the stool.
In its early stages, bowel cancer often has no symptoms. This is why it is important to screen. Like most diseases, bowel cancer can often cause symptoms which are similar to other unrelated conditions.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, you should consult your doctor.
Symptoms can include:
- A recent, persistent change in bowel habit to looser, more diarrhoea-like motions, going to the toilet more often, or trying to go (ie. irregularity in someone whose bowels have previously been regular)
- Blood (either bright red or very dark) in the stool
- Diarrhoea, constipation, or feeling that the bowel does not empty completely
- Frequent gas pains, bloating, fullness or cramps
- Stools that are narrower than usual
- A lump or mass in your tummy
- Weight loss for no known reason
- Persistent, severe abdominal pain, which has come on recently for the first time
(especially in an older age group)
- Feeling very tired
If you have any of these symptoms, it does not mean that you have bowel cancer, but it is very important you discuss them with your doctor.
- REMEMBER: However old you are, you should never be told by your doctor that you are too young to have bowel cancer. Whilst bowel cancer is more common in people aged 50+, bowel cancer increasingly affects all age groups.
If you have higher-risk symptoms, do not accept 'you're too young to have bowel cancer' as an explanation for your symptoms - ask your doctor to be referred for further investigations.