BOWEL cancer symptoms are not always obvious but, as one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in the UK, it is important to recognise the signs. Bleeding from your bottom or blood in your poo can indicate the disease, but the colour of the blood could be a sign of a completely different health condition.
Bowel cancer symptoms may be mistaken for less serious health conditions – most people with them do not have cancer.
Discomfort or bloating is one of the signs, but this can also be a symptom of discomfort or bloating brought on by eating.
Bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo can be another indicator of bowel cancer, but it can also be a sign of less serious health condition haemorrhoids.
Also known as piles, haemorrhoids are swellings containing enlarged blood vessels found inside or around the bottom, and can also cause bleeding after passing a stool.
You should see your GP if you experience any of the symptoms of bowel cancer, but one differentiation between bowel cancer and piles is the colour of the blood in your poo.
Bowel cancer symptoms may be mistaken for less serious health conditions – most people with them do not have cancer
Bowel Cancer UK explains: “There are several possible causes of bleeding from your bottom or blood in your bowel movements (poo).
“Bright red blood may come from swollen blood vessels (haemorrhoids or piles) in your back passage. Dark red or black blood may come from your bowel or stomach.
“Tell your doctor about any bleeding so they can find out what is causing it.”
The cause of most bowel cancers is not yet known, but there are six factors that can increase your risk of getting the disease.
According to Bowel Cancer UK these are being aged over 50, a strong family history of bowel cancer, a history of non-cancerous growths in your bowel, longstanding inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, type 2 diabetes, and an unhealthy lifestyle.
The charity says: “You are more at risk of getting bowel cancer if you have one or more of the following risk factors. This doesn’t mean that you will definitely get bowel cancer.
“Equally, if you don’t have any risk factors, it doesn’t mean you can’t get bowel cancer.”
You could lower your risk of bowel cancer by making some simple lifestyle changes.
Cutting back on red and processed meat could lower your risk of developing bowel cancer, according to Lizzie Tuckey, director of clinical strategy at Bupa.
Maintaining a healthy weight and reducing your alcohol intake may also prevent the disease.
The best way to protect yourself against bowel cancer is to boost the amount of fibre you’re eating.
Good sources of fibre include fruit, vegetables, beans, pulses and whole grains.
Alongside blood and abdominal pain, fidocmfort and bloating, a persistent change in bowel habit can be a symptom of bowel cancer.
Going ore often, looser stools and sometimes tummy (abdominal pain) fall under changes in bowel habit, according to the NHS.