Instances of bowel cancer have been steadily increasing for the past few decades, but perhaps the most concerning trend we are seeing today is the sharp increase among younger adults. This is largely preventable. Cutting down on processed meat and alcohol, stopping smoking, losing weight, increasing fibre intake and exercising regularly, will significantly reduce the risk of developing conditions such as bowel cancer. Secondly, early diagnosis is key, here are some warning signs to look out for…
Blood in the poo
This is a common symptom. Though this is normally due to haemorrhoids, it can be a sign of bowel cancer.
Looser stools or frequent bathroom visits
Most of us have suffered from diarrhoea, or periods of more frequent visits to the toilet. These changes normally settle, but if they don’t for more than a couple of weeks is worth mentioning to your doctor.
This is the sensation of being unable to completely empty the rectum. It can be caused by a build-up of hard impacted poo or by inflammation of the lining of the rectum, but can also be sign of bowel cancer.
Unexplained weight loss
All cancers can cause this. If you have been losing weight without really trying, it is important to speak to your GP or a specialist.
An abdominal mass
Occasionally large cancers can be felt as a lump within the tummy.
Symptoms of bowel obstruction
Advanced bowel cancer can cause a blockage in the colon, leading to tummy pain and swelling, vomiting and constipation. If you experience any of these symptoms, don’t be embarrassed. Seek medical advice.