GMB : Adela Roberts discusses her bowel cancer diagnosis
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Bowel cancer is one of the most common types diagnosed in the UK, with more than 42,000 new cases each year. Bowel cancer is also the third most common in both women and men. Here are the symptoms to spot.
When it comes to bowel cancer, the symptoms can be “subtle” and not “necessarily make you feel ill”, the NHS explains.
However, the majority of the people with this diagnosis will experience at least one warning combination of signs.
The best-known symptom of bowel cancer is persistent changes in bowel habits.
This is characterised by pooping more, so the number of times you go for a poo could be a warning sign.
Bowel Cancer UK explains that you may also “feel as though you’re not going to the toilet often enough or you might feel as though you’re not fully emptying your bowel”.
Other symptoms linked to the changes in bowel habits are looser, runnier poos and tummy pain.
It’s important to keep an eye on your bowel movements and report any persistent changes to your GP.
The charity adds: “Tell your GP if you have noticed any persistent and unexplained changes in your bowel habit, especially if you also have bleeding from your back passage.”
Even though going to the loo more often is linked to bowel cancer, it can also be a sign of eating more fibre or whole grains, the Mayo Clinic explains.
So, this symptom on its own doesn’t necessarily mean you have the diagnosis.
Other signs of bowel cancer include:
- Blood in the poo (without other symptoms of piles)
- Abdominal pain
- Discomfort or bloating always brought on by eating
- Weight loss.
The NHS recommends seeing a GP if you suffer from any of these for three weeks or more.
The health service warns that occasionally bowel cancer can stop digestive waste from passing through the bowel.
This is known as a bowel obstruction.
Classified as a medical emergency, bowel obstruction needs to be treated by A&E.
Intermittent and occasionally severe tummy pain, unintentional weight loss, constant swollen tummy and being sick are all signs of this medical emergency.
Once you’re diagnosed with bowel cancer, the course of treatment will depend on the exact location and your individual case.
The options range from surgery through chemotherapy to biological treatments.
The good news is that if it’s detected promptly, treatment can cure the cancer and even stop it from returning.
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