Bowel Cancer Awareness
It’s Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, a great opportunity to make yourself aware of the symptoms of a disease that affects 43,000 people a year in the UK alone. Every 15 minutes someone is diagnosed with bowel cancer, and people are often leaving diagnosis too late, reducing their chances of successful treatment. Here are some of the signs and symptoms of bowel cancer.
Bleeding from your bottom can be benign, often due to a fissure or haemorrhoids (piles), particularly if the blood is bright red as opposed to dark red or black. Bright red blood indicates fresh bleeding, and dark red or black indicates that the blood is older, originating in the stomach or bowel. Any bleeding should be checked out by a GP or other health professional to ascertain the cause.
Changes in your usual bowel habits will always need further investigation. If you are suddenly constipated or have looser stools than usual with no explanation, or you find you need to poo more or less frequently than usual, head to the doctor. Equally, if you feel like you are not fully emptying your bowels when you poo, it’s best to tell your GP.
We all feel tired from time to time, however, if there is no reason for your sudden tiredness, or it won’t go away, it could indicate a lack of iron in your body. This is a condition that will need further investigation, although is not always due to cancer.
Unexplained weight loss can be a sign of cancer. This can be due to altered metabolism caused by cancer cells, the physicality of a tumour pressing on your stomach, or a decreased appetite. Any weight loss which is not due to an increase of physical activity or deliberate weight loss should be checked out.
Lump or pain
Lumps and pain should be investigated by your doctor, especially if they are affecting your day-to-day activities, such as sleeping and eating.
These signs and symptoms are usually not cancer but should always be checked out as soon as possible. Bowel cancer is very treatable if caught at an early stage, and the earlier the diagnosis, the simpler the treatment. For further advice, please visit Bowel Cancer UK, and always seek medical advice if you have a new symptom.