What are the bowel cancer warning signs that should not be ignored?

Written by: Mr Steve Pandey
Edited by: Conor Lynch

Symptoms of bowel cancer may sometimes present themselves in a very similar fashion to those associated with haemorrhoids. It is, therefore, extremely important to have any alerting symptoms checked out as soon as possible. Here, esteemed consultant colorectal surgeon, Mr Steve Pandey, outlines all of the warning signs of bowel cancer that one simply shouldn't ignore. 

What are the signs of bowel cancer that you shouldn't ignore?

The first warning sign to watch out for is rectal bleeding. The most concering type of rectal bleeding is blood that is dark red in colour. Bleeding that lasts for more days than is considered normal should be reported. The next warning sign of bowel cancer that patients should watch out for is a change in bowel habit. A red flag is if they have to go to the bathroom more often than what they usually used to, or if patients notice that they go many times a day, and that the frequency is different, the consistency is different, and the bowel movement is loose.


Other red flags include bloody diarrhoea, passing bowel movements when you think you have just passed wind, a feeling that you need to go again as soon as you have finished in the bathroom, or intense urgency. Another cause for concern would be the other side of things, then, if patients who had no problems passing bowel movements before suddenly struggle to go and are constantly constipated


Anaemia can present itself on the right-hand side of one's bowel, and is one of the most common presentations of bowel cancer on this side of one's bowel. Abdominal pain can also be a common symptom of bowel cancer, but is usually a late symptom. Vomiting, unexplained weight loss, and a lot of diarrhoea are also symptoms of bowel cancer. 


What lifestyle changes can you make to lower the risk of bowel cancer?

There is no real link between lifestyle and bowel cancer. About five per cent of bowel cancer is caused by genetic factors. In terms of lifestyle, patients should prioritise a healthy lifestyle. Eating healthily, exercising regularly, avoiding red meat and alcohol, and drinking plenty of water are things that are all strongly recommended.


Why is it important to see a doctor early to discuss symptoms you may be having?

It is important because the majority of people who come to discuss symptoms with us will have a test that will show that is everything is fine and normal. Reassurance is a huge reason why it is important to discuss them. Also, it is very important to report symptoms, because the earlier we can diagnose the cancer, if they might have it, the better for the patient. The treatment, curative options, and long-term outlook are all better if bowel cancer is detected at the earliest stage possible. 


If you are currently experiencing any of the symptoms outlined in the above article, make sure you book an appointment with Mr Steve Pandey today via his Top Doctors profile.

By Mr Steve Pandey
Colorectal surgery

Mr Steve Pandey is a senior consultant surgeon in Worcestershire with an outstanding clinical reputation. He sees patients privately at the Worcestershire Bowel Clinic at Spire South Bank Hospital in Worcester

Mr Pandey is a leading specialist in the treatment of bowel cancer. He is an expert keyhole bowel surgeon with the experience of having treated one of the highest numbers of bowel cancer patients in the region over the last 10 years. His clinical outcomes are excellent and can be viewed here

Mr Pandey also specialises in treating common conditions such as hernias and haemorrhoids (piles). He is a consultant with a reputation for providing expert care using the latest techniques, and is one of the UK's leading experts in Transanal Haemorrhoidal Dearterialisation (THD), which is a minimally invasive treatment for haemorrhoids.  He also offers the only laser treatment service of its kind in the region for treatment of conditions like piles, fistulas, and pilonidal disease. He is also an accredited endoscopist with expertise in diagnostic and therapeutic colonoscopy.

Mr Pandey received his medical training at the Armed Forces Medical College in India. After serving briefly as an army doctor in Nepal, he completed his further surgical training in the UK in Bristol and the West Midlands. He is a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and a member of the Association of Coloproctology of Great Britain and Ireland. 

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