Bowel cancer symptoms

Bowel Cancer UK is urging men to speak to their GP if they experience bowel cancer symptoms. A survey carried out as part of the charity’s Stay on Track campaign, showed that 30% of men still wait three months or more to seek help after spotting the first signs of the disease.

Discover everything you need to know about the common bowel cancer symptoms below.

What are the common bowel cancer symptoms?

Bowel cancer develops in the large bowel, consisting of the rectum and colon. While it is most common in those who are aged 50 and over, it can affect people of all ages.

The most common bowel cancer symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Bleeding from your rectum/blood in the stools
  • An unexplained, consistent change in bowel habits
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • A lump or pain in the stomach

Most people who develop these symptoms don’t have bowel cancer. However, you should still visit your GP to rule it out.

Why is early detection important?

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK, yet the second biggest killer. There are around 268,000 people currently diagnosed with the disease.

While there are no UK-wide statistics regarding survival rates, figures for England show that 90 out of 100 people survive for more than 5 years when diagnosed with stage 1 bowel cancer. When caught in stage 2, it drops to 80 out of 100 people. If the disease isn’t detected until stage 4, the chances of surviving more than 5 years drops to just 10 per cent.

These statistics show just how important it is to detect bowel cancer early. The earlier it is detected, the more treatment options there are. You can also stop the disease from spreading to other areas of the body.

How is bowel cancer diagnosed?

Bowel cancer screening is used to detect and diagnose the disease. Those aged 60 to 75 are automatically invited to bowel cancer screening run by the NHS. This typically starts with a home test kit that requires a small stool sample to be taken and sent off through the post using the materials provided.

For adults aged under 60 years of age with symptoms of bowel cancer, it is important to get checked straight away and not wait until you meet the criteria for the screening programme. Mr Stellakis also offers a bespoke screening programme for families and individuals based on age, family history and individual risk.

Different diagnostic tests may be offered, but typically will typically include a combination of a colonoscopy, a Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT), a flexible sigmoidoscopy or scans.

A colonoscopy is normally carried out. This simple and for the most part pain-free test takes just 20 to 30 minutes, examining the colon. A sedative will help you relax, then a small tube with a camera will be inserted into the anus, and samples can be taken for analysis. A flexible sigmoidoscopy is similar to colonoscopy, but does not require sedative as it is less invasive.

If you are concerned about bowel cancer symptoms, contact Mr Michael Stellakis for a consultation.