Deborah James discusses 'scary' bowel cancer symptoms
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According to the NHS, bowel cancer is the fourth “most common” cancer diagnosed in the UK, behind breast, lung and prostate cancers. Around 268,000 people living in the UK today have been diagnosed with bowel cancer, reports the charity Bowel Cancer UK.
The NHS advises people to see a GP if they believe they have had any symptoms of bowel cancer for “three weeks or more”.
The sooner bowel cancer is caught, the better the chances are of treatment. If left to spread, different types of treatment may be necessary.
The NHS explains: “As with most types of cancer, the chance of a complete cure depends on how far it’s spread by the time it’s diagnosed.
“If the cancer is confined to the bowel, surgery is usually able to completely remove it.”
What are the three main symptoms of bowel cancer?
The NHS says there are “three main symptoms of bowel cancer” that patients notice.
However, it is important to note that these are not the only symptoms of bowel cancer.
Furthermore, the NHS states: “Most people with these symptoms do not have bowel cancer. Other health problems can cause similar symptoms.”
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The three main symptoms of bowel cancer are:
Persistent blood in your poo – that happens for no obvious reason or is associated with a change in bowel habit.
A persistent change in your bowel habit – which is usually having to poo more and your poo may also become runnier.
Persistent lower abdominal (tummy) pain, bloating or discomfort – that’s always caused by eating and may be associated with loss of appetite or significant unintentional weight loss.
What to do if you are concerned about your symptoms?
If you are worried about your symptoms and think they could be similar to those associated with cancer, it is important to visit your GP.
They will be able to assess you and determine the next steps.
When you visit your GP, they may examine your tummy and bottom to check for any lumps.
You may also be offered a blood test to check for iron deficiency anaemia.
The NHS explains: “This can show whether there’s any bleeding from your bowel that you have not been aware of.”
You may also be referred for tests in hospital to make sure there are no serious causes for your symptoms.
If your symptoms persist, people are urged to continue visiting their GP regardless of the severity of symptoms or their age.
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