Often regarded as an older person’s disease, every year over 2,500 younger people are diagnosed with bowel cancer in the UK. While this is only around six per cent of those diagnosed, this number is slowly increasing with bowel cancer cases in 15 to 24-year-olds rising 186 per cent in the past three decades.
Here, one of our expert gastroenterologists, Dr Aathavan Loganayagam, explains which symptoms of bowel cancer to be wary of and how to ensure that both you and your GP are doing everything that you can to investigate them and either rule out the disease or catch it in its early stages.
What are the risk factors of bowel cancer?
Risk factors for early-onset bowel cancer remain unknown.
While bowel cancer is still more common in the over-50s, studies have shown it’s sometimes more aggressive in younger patients.
How do you think we can tackle cases of bowel cancer in young people?
Young people and their GPs need to recognise and promptly investigate symptoms to rule out bowel cancer as an underlying cause. Younger patients report having to see their GP many times, sometimes more than five times, before being referred for crucial diagnostic tests. Symptoms suggestive of bowel cancer should be followed up with colonoscopy within 30 days.
What are the symptoms to pay attention to for bowel cancer?
If you experience any of these symptoms for two weeks or more, see your GP:
- Abdominal pain
- Persistent changes in bowel habits
- Blood in the bowel movement or rectal bleeding
- Unexplained tiredness or weight loss
- It’s also important for people to know your family history – if your mother, father, brother or sister had bowel cancer before the age of 55.
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms as mentioned by Dr Loganayagam, you can book to have a video call with him using our e-Consultation tool or make an appointment to see him in person here.