Bowel Cancer Symptoms

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Bowel Cancer Symptoms

Predisposing factors in the development of bowel (colorectal) cancer include a family history and genetic traits.

Alongside a family history of bowel cancer there are other risk factors such as:

  • Being over the age of 50
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • A lifestyle lacking in exercise
  • Longstanding inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis
  • A history of polyps in your bowel
  • Smoking
  • A diet high in processed or red meat.

Symptoms of Bowel Cancer

Patients diagnosed with bowel cancer commonly have one or more of the following symptoms. It is very important to note that just because you have these symptoms, it doesn’t mean you have cancer and equally early stage cancer may not cause overt symptoms.

But can also be linked to other/less serious conditions such as IBS or discomfort and bloating brought on by eating. Sometimes this is accompanied by weight loss, as people may tend to eat less.

Sudden, unintentional weight loss is one of the possible signs of bowel cancer, although it can also be linked to other conditions such as IBD, coeliac disease, stomach ulcers, eating disorders and stress.

Changes in bowel habit lasting up to a couple of weeks are common. However, a change in bowel habit lasting longer should be investigated, as it is one of the signs of bowel cancer. “Normal” bowel habit varies widely – some people open their bowels several times a day whereas others go every two or three days.

Bleeding from your back passage – is most commonly caused by haemorrhoids (piles) particularly if it is bright red blood. Haemorrhoids are swollen veins inside your anal canal, causing bleeding often after straining to open your bowels. However, blood in your stool can also be a sign of bowel cancer and should be investigated. If the blood is dark red or your stool looks black and tarry it may be caused by bleeding higher up in the bowel or from a stomach ulcer.

The reason is that the lining of the bowel can bleed in small amounts over a long period of time without you noticing. This can cause a loss of iron, which is essential for the formation of new blood cells. Over time, this can lead to iron deficiency anaemia even if you have a diet that is rich in iron. It is not always easy to spot anaemia as it rarely has any symptoms unless it is very advanced in which case you may notice pale skin and breathlessness. Mild anaemia is common in women particularly before the menopause, but uncommon in men and should always be investigated. A simple full blood count including haemoglobin, is used to identify anaemia, which if evident should be investigated.

In some cases, bowel cancer can cause an obstruction in the bowel. If this happens, you may experience:

  • Intermittent and occasionally severe abdominal pain when you eat
  • Unintentional weight loss, with persistent abdominal pain
  • Vomiting with abdominal swelling.

Rapid Access to Clinic and Diagnosis

Bowel cancer is the UK’s second biggest cause of cancer death. Around 16,000 people die from the disease each year. Yet bowel cancer can be treated and even cured, if it is diagnosed early.

Around 9 out of every 10 people survive bowel cancer if diagnosed at an early stage.

Windsor Bowel Clinic provides rapid access to investigations and treatments to give you the best possible chance of success.

Bowel Cancer Diagnosis

For people with no symptoms, screening for bowel cancer is offered under the NHS in the over 60 age group once every two years. This is performed using a stool test kit which detects occult bleeding (FIT or FOB Test). If you choose to participate in the screening programme and have an abnormal result, indicating there may be bleeding within your gut, you will be referred for further testing using a colonoscopy.

Giving your health the priority it deserves

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