Health & Safety

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Beating Bowel Cancer

16 August 2016

Bowel cancer is currently the UK's second deadliest cancer, with someone dying of the disease every half an hour. But if itís caught early it is treatable.

doctor examining male patient

Looking into the toilet bowl after youíve been is not the most pleasant of experiences, but knowledge of your poo habits might just save your life.

The charity "Beating Bowel Cancer" state that itís known that nine out of 10 cases of bowel cancer can be treated successfully if diagnosed early.

Paramount to this early diagnosis is that people are aware of whatís going on with their poo, and that any persistent changes in the normal routine and any signs of blood are checked out immediately.

Bowel Cancer Warning Signs

Hereís exactly what you need to know about poo and bowel cancer:

  1. Stools with blood - Very often, blood in stools is from piles (haemorrhoids), especially if it is bright red, fresh blood Ė this is because piles are basically swollen veins in the back passage which can easily get damaged when you poo, causing a small amount of bleeding. But if the blood seems darker, it could be a sign of cancer higher up in the bowel, which has time to go darker as it moves through the bowel. Your stool will be very dark, almost like tar. It could also be bleeding from an ulcer, but either way, you need to see the doctor and get it checked.
  2. Looser stools - Everyone can have the odd bout of diarrhoea, from dodgy food, stress or (for women) that time of the month. But if you notice a change to your normal bowel habits that last longer than four to six weeks (though some experts say three), it needs to be checked. This is particularly the case if your stools are looser.
  3. More frequent stools - Similar to above, if you notice youíre needing to go a lot more often (and havenít really changed your diet), it could be an early sign that somethingís up.
  4. Straining to poo - Constipation, like diarrhoea, is something everyone might have occasionally, but like diarrhoea, if itís ongoing, you need to be aware. Sometimes the cancer tumor can block the bowel, leading to symptoms of intense pains in the abdomen, bloating, being sick, and being constipated.
  5. Straining to poo but not actually Ďgoingí - Sometimes, feeling like you need to go, even though you donít, can be an early symptom of bowel cancer.

Five Other Symptoms of Bowel Cancer

Remember not all these symptoms always mean cancer; and not all people will suffer the same symptoms. If youíre worried, see your doctor immediately.

  1. Losing weight -† without dieting, maybe due to having a reduced appetite, or feeling bloated or sick.
  2. Pain in your abdomen or back passage - constant or intermittent pain that may be linked to going to the toilet or might come and go
  3. Unexplained tiredness
  4. Breathlessness
  5. Dizziness

For more information on symptoms or anything else about bowel cancer youíre worried about, visit the 'Beating Bowel Cancer' website.