Bowel Cancer Awareness: How to Spot the Signs of Bowel Cancer & When to See a Doctor by Usay Compare

Bowel Cancer Awareness: How to Spot the Signs of Bowel Cancer & When to See a Doctor

As April was Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, doctors have been urging the public to learn more about the signs and symptoms of this deadly disease. Bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer and one of the most lethal, both in the UK and around the world, with nearly 17,000 deaths attributed to the disease between 2017 and 2019 in the UK alone. 

Many deaths could be prevented if people knew which red flags to watch out for and committed to getting tested regularly. These are the key signs you should be watching out for and more information on bowel cancer. 

What Is Bowel Cancer?

Bowel cancer is any cancer found in the large bowel, also known as the large intestine. This includes the colon and rectum, which is why some medical professionals refer to this disease as colorectal cancer. It is the third most common cancer in the world and the second most deadly.

Like many forms of cancer, bowel cancer can be caused by a variety of factors that are environmental, genetic or stem from lifestyle choices. That being said, unhealthy dietary habits are a notable cause of its development.

When To See a Doctor

When it comes to bowel cancer, your number two habits can be quite revealing! So, don't brush off any strange bathroom surprises, especially if they start happening often, and you can't blame it on that new dish you just tried.

If one or more of the following symptoms persist for more than two weeks, it’s time to see a medical professional:

  • Stomach pain.
  • Defecating more than usual.
  • Feeling like you need to defecate often, even if you just went.
  • Changes in stool texture, such as it being softer or harder than normal.
  • Bloating.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Unexplained fatigue.

The most important symptom to be aware of is blood coming from the anus, whether on its own or in stools. Contact a doctor immediately if you have the following symptoms:

  • Red or black stools.
  • Bleeding from the anus.

The Benefits of Early Detection

Testing for bowel cancer once you exhibit symptoms is easy – it’s actually often done in the privacy and comfort of your own home. You can take the test kit home and return it to your doctor once you’re done.

But people without symptoms should also be getting their bowels examined for signs of cancer to detect and treat the disease before symptoms start to appear, as early detection of bowel cancer significantly reduces the risk of mortality. Tests like colonoscopies look for polyps, or growths, within the lower bowel. These growths can take years to turn into cancer, so the removal of them before they’re cancerous can actually nip bowel cancer in the bud.

Many people shy away from these types of tests because they can be uncomfortable. Still, with the prevalence and severity of bowel cancer, it’s better to embrace the temporary discomfort for the sake of your long-term health.

Article courtesy of Usay Compare.

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Donna John
Colon cancer runs in my family. This is such important information. Don't be afraid of a colonoscopy! It's such a simple procedure.

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