Bowel cancer is a general term for cancer that begins in the large bowel – a part of the digestive system that includes the colon and rectum. Due to the location of the cancer, many of the symptoms show up in your poo. According to Dr Tom Micklewright, Associate Medical Director at Push Doctor, there is no single change in your poo that can determine whether or not you have bowel cancer.
“Doctors will consider a number of factors, including your age and the presence of other symptoms, like stomach pain or anaemia, when deciding whether to suspect bowel cancer,” he explained to Express.co.uk.
However, there are a number of visual clues that can point to the risk of bowel cancer.
“Any persisting change in your stools could be a sign of bowel cancer, especially in the over 60s or if there is blood in the stools as well,” said Dr Micklewright.
Blood in poo – a warning sign – is often responsible for the perceptible changes.
As Dr Dr Micklewright explained, this may cause them to appear bright red, dark maroon or even black, depending on where in your gut the blood has come from.
“Unless there is a reason for the bleeding, for instance, if you are having a flare up of haemorrhoids (piles), then you should see your doctor about any blood in your stool,” he advised.
A common feature is looser stools or needing to poo more often, Dr Micklewright said.
“Persisting constipation that’s not improving with laxatives from the pharmacy may also be a concern,” he added.
When to see a doctor
According to the NHS, you should see a GP if you have any of the symptoms of bowel cancer for three weeks or more.
“When you first see a GP, they’ll ask about your symptoms and whether you have a family history of bowel cancer,” explains the health body.
As it explains, they’ll usually carry out a simple examination of your bottom, known as a digital rectal examination (DRE), and examine your tummy (abdomen).
Am I at risk?
The exact cause of bowel cancer is unknown. However, research has shown several factors may make you more likely to develop it.
Processed meat is any meat that has been treated to preserve it and/or add flavour – for example, bacon, salami, sausages, canned meat, or chicken nuggets.
A linked risk factor is obesity, which means being very overweight with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher.
According to Cancer Research UK, it is estimated that 11 out of 100 bowel cancers (11 percent) in the UK are linked to being overweight or obese.
Other risk factors include:
- Smoking tobacco
- Family history
- Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
Published at Thu, 04 Mar 2021 04:00:00 +0000