Deborah James discusses 'scary' bowel cancer symptoms
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In order to live longer, any cancerous tumours – including one in the bowel – must be brought to the attention of medical experts who can target the dangerous growth with anti-cancer treatments. One of the most telling signs of bowel cancer, according to the charity Bowel Cancer UK, is the colour of your bottom. If there are specks of red staining your derriere, the likelihood it is blood – and a bleeding bottom is a cause for concern.
While it is true a bleeding behind can be a sign of benign (i.e. non cancerous) haemorrhoids, it may be more sinister.
Bleeding from your bottom, or blood in your poo, can be a warning sign of bowel cancer.
Four other possible signs of bowel cancer might include:
- A persistent and unexplained change in bowel habit
- Unexplained weight loss
- Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
- A pain or lump in your tummy.
The charity urges people who are suffering from any one of these symptoms to check in with their doctor.
There are a whole host of other health conditions it could be, such as:
- Piles (haemorrhoids)
- Anal fissures
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Diverticular disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Ulcerative colitis.
However, any condition – including the possibility of cancer – are best investigated by a medical professional who is trained to look after your health.
It will help to keep a note of all your symptoms and when you experience them for when you visit the doctor’s clinic.
These are some prompts suggested by the charity to get you thinking how symptoms could be showing up in your life.
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- When did you first notice your symptoms?
- Do your symptoms come and go?
- Have you noticed any blood in your bowel movements (poo) or on the toilet paper?
- Do you have any pain when you go to the toilet?
- Do you have pain in your stomach area?
- Does your stomach feel more full than usual (bloated)?
- Is your poo softer or harder than usual?
- Are you going to the toilet more or less often than usual?
- Do your symptoms wake you up at night?
- Have you lost any weight recently?
- Do you feel tired for no obvious reason?
- Do you feel sick or get indigestion?
It will also be helpful to mention any close family members who may have experienced cancer in their lifetime.
Be prepared to have a physical examination, allied bank phillipines which can involve the doctor feeling your stomach to check for any cancerous lumps.
It is also entirely probable that the doctor will need to do a digital rectal examination.
“This involves putting a gloved finger inside the back passage (anus) to feel for any lumps,” the experts at Bowel Cancer UK explained.
“This can be uncomfortable but it shouldn’t be painful and it is over quickly.”
Do remember that a rectal examination is part of a doctor’s job remit, and many people will have gone before (and will go after) you.
Your doctor may also arrange further testing, such as a colonoscopy to check if there is hidden blood in your faeces.
Most people referred to hospital for further testing do not have bowel cancer, but it is a doctor’s duty of care to ensure that the cause of symptoms is investigated.
Even though the coronavirus pandemic has put a strain on the NHS, you can expect to be referred for hospital testing within two weeks following your doctor’s appointment.
Even if your bowel cancer scare was only that – a scare – it is wise to know how to minimise your risk of this deadly disease.
This includes: eating a varied, healthy diet, maintaining a healthy body weight, doing lots of regular physical activity, and abstaining from unhealthy habits.
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