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Symptoms of bowel cancer

Bowel Awareness Video

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There are many symptoms of bowel cancer to look out for.

The same signs can also indicate other less serious conditions such as haemorrhoids (piles), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diverticular disease, infection or inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis/Crohn’s disease). However, if you have any of the symptoms of bowel cancer listed below you should seek the advice of your GP immediately for further tests to confirm a diagnosis.

The symptoms of bowel cancer are:

  • Blood in your stools (poo) or bleeding from your bottom
  • A change in your bowel habits that lasts longer than 6 weeks. This may include an increase in the frequency of passing stools, loosening of the stool and less commonly hardening of the stool i.e. diarrhoea or constipation
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • A constant or intermittent pain in your tummy
  • A lump in your tummy that doesn’t go away
  • Extreme tiredness for no particular reason
  • A feeling that you haven’t emptied your back passage fully after going to the toilet

As the disease progresses there may be other signs of bowel cancer to look out for. Bleeding may occur internally in the bowel but not be evident in the poo, leading to anaemia. This may cause:

  • Breathlessness
  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness
  • Looking pale

If the bowel cancer causes an obstruction you may also experience the following signs and symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Bloating/distension – particularly in the area around your belly button.
  • Difficulty in having a poo and/or passing wind/gas

Please also refer to our bowel cancer FAQ page.

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