Bowel cancer symptoms: Stomach pain could be indicative of the disease
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This type of cancer is common in the UK, with around 42,300 people being diagnosed with the condition each year. Both genders are susceptible to bowel cancer, and early treatment is necessary for longer term survival. Cancer Research UK noted symptoms of bowel cancer that can be found in men and women. Do pay attention if you’re suffering from a bit of a belly ache, as abdominal pain is one possible sign of the disease; there may also be a lump felt in the right side of the abdomen.
Pain may also be felt in the back passage, and even after doing your business on the toilet, you may feel as though you need to strain (as if doing another poo).
Your back passage can even bleed, so keep an eye on the tissue you use to wipe and the toilet bowl.
Before flushing, it would be wise to check if you can see specks of blood in your faeces.
Any bleeding from your behind is a cause for concern and could be an indication of bowel cancer.
However, this could also be caused by haemorrhoids (i.e. piles) if the blood is bright red and looks “fresh”.
Blood from higher up in the bowel is dark red or black, which can make your bowel motions “look like tar”.
“This type of bleeding can be a sign of cancer higher up the bowel. Or it could be from a bleeding stomach ulcer for example,” said the charity.
Also notice if you’ve had a change in your normal bowel habits, such as looser poo, pooing more often or constipation.
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Three other signs of bowel cancer include unexplained weight loss, tiredness and breathlessness.
“See your GP if you are worried about any symptoms that you think could be caused by cancer in the bowel,” said Cancer Research UK.
When visiting your GP because of worrisome symptoms, these tips might help you get the most out of your appointment.
- Note down your symptoms, when they started, when they happen, and how often
- Anything that makes them worse or better
- Notify your GP if you’re worried about cancer
- Tell them if there’s a family history of cancer
- Ask the GP to explain anything you don’t understand
During the visit, the doctor might perform a rectal examination – when a gloved finger is put into the back passage to feel for any abnormalities.
If a lump is found in the back passage you may be referred to hospital for further tests.
Should any of your symptoms be due to cancer, “the earlier it’s picked up the higher the chance of successful treatment”.
Am I at risk of bowel cancer?
Eating too much red and processed meat has been linked to bowel cancer. Examples include:
- Chicken nuggets
- Canned meat
Eating too little fibre is also linked to the disease. You can boost your fibre intake by choosing wholegrain versions of rice, pasta or bread.
“Obesity is a cause of bowel cancer,” warned Cancer Research UK; obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more.
Smoking is also linked to the disease, with the risk of bowel cancer increasing with the number of cigarettes smoked per day.
Alcohol can also increase the risk of bowel cancer, and the risk of developing the disease heightens as you age.
If you’ve already had bowel cancer you’re also at an increased risk of another bowel cancer.
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