Bowel cancer: Dr Hilary outlines the main symptoms
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Being able to identify the warning signs of cancer promptly can buy you precious time to stop cancerous cells from spreading to other parts of your body. What’s more, the earlier you catch the condition, the higher your chances of successful treatment will be. Fortunately, hematochezia could break the news of bowel cancer, with the sign being considered the “first noticeable” symptom.
Between changes in your bowel habits to disabling tiredness, there are various bowel cancer signs that could ring alarm bells.
Dr Angela Rai, GP at The London General Practice, said: “Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK and is the second most common cause of cancer death in the UK.
“If detected early before symptoms develop, bowel cancer treatment is more likely to be successful.”
One sign that could reveal the deadly condition crops up when you go to the loo for number two.
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According to the doctor, the “first noticeable” symptom of bowel cancer is hematochezia, also known as blood in the stool.
This sign is characterised by a fresh, red colour that can be mixed in with your poo or it can be spotted on the loo roll.
Hematochezia is triggered by bleeding in your colon, which is fairly close to your anus.
This means that the blood only travels a short distance, giving the sign its key fresh appearance.
Dr Rai added: “However, this is a common symptom and can usually be caused by other conditions like haemorrhoids or anal fissures.
“Blood in the stool without haemorrhoid symptoms such as soreness, itching and discomfort is more of a concern.”
This red flag often comes hand in hand with other changes in your poo.
The doctor said: “Blood in the stool with a persistent change in bowel habit to looser stools and opening your bowels more often can also be associated with [this sign].”
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Furthermore, you might also experience abdominal discomfort and pain in your tummy which is always triggered by eating.
According to the NHS, more than 90 percent of bowel cancer patients will experience one of the following combinations of tell-tale signs:
- Persistent change in bowel habit (pooing more often, with looser, runnier poos)
- Blood in the poo
- Abdominal pain, discomfort or bloating always brought on by eating – sometimes resulting in a reduction in the amount of food eaten and weight loss.
Dr Rai said: “The symptoms of bowel cancer can be subtle and should be checked.
“See your GP, they can arrange tests including blood tests, stool tests or more advanced tests like colonoscopy or CT colonography if required.
“Most people with these symptoms actually do not have bowel cancer, but if you are concerned, please speak to your GP.”
Other conditions like coeliac disease and haemorrhoids can cause similar symptoms so these signs don’t guarantee you have the deadly condition.
What’s worse, some people might not experience any symptoms at all, highlighting the importance of undergoing cancer screening if you’re eligible.
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