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Bowel cancer – the easily missed symptom of the disease you need to watch out for

Bowel cancer symptoms tend to affect a person’s bowel habits. As well as a persistent change in bowel habits, such as having to poo more or experiencing more runny poo, a person may also experience bleeding from the tumour. You may see blood mixed up with your stools, explains, and sometimes the blood can make the faeces turn a very dark colour.

But it warns: “The bleeding is not usually severe and in many cases it is not noticed, as it is just a small trickle which is mixed with the faeces.”

If blood in your poo isn’t obvious it may be worth looking out for other signs.

The site advises: “Small amounts of bleeding that occur regularly can lead to anaemia which can make you tired and pale.”

It’s important to note blood in poo isn’t always a sign of bowel cancer.

Blood and yellow slime when posing, irritated anus, non stop bottom pain can be caused by an anal fistula – a small tunnel that develops between the en dot the bowel and the skin near the anus.

Bloody diarrhoea with clear slime, and feeling and being sick can be caused by a tummy bug.

And bloody diarrhoea, tummy cramps and pain, and feeling bloated can be signs of inflammatory bowel diseases like colitis and Crohn’s disease.

Other symptoms of bowel cancer to note include passing mucus with poo and tummy (abdominal) pains.

A feeling of not fully emptying the rectum after passing faeces may also be a sign.

If you have one or more of the symptoms of bowel cancer and they have persisted for more than four weeks you should see your GP, advises the NHS.

Your GP may decide to examine your tummy and bottom to make sure you have no lumps, and arrange for a simple blood test to check for iron deficiency anaemia.

This can show whether there’s any bleeding from the bowel that you might have not been aware of.

Bowel cancer screening

The NHS offers two types of bowel cancer screening to adults registered with a GP in England.

The first, it explains: “All men and women aged 60 to 74 are invited to carry out a FIT or FOB test.

“Every two years, they’re sent a home test kit, which is used to collect a poo sample.

“If you’re 75 or over, you can ask for this test by calling the freephone helpline on 0800 707 60 60.”

The second, it says: “An additional one-off test called bowel scope screening is gradually being introduced in England.

“This is offered to men and women at the age of 55.

“It involves a doctor or nurse looking inside the lower part of the bowel using a camera on the end of a thin, flexible tube.”

Going for a bowel cancer screening reduces a person’s chance of dying from bowel cancer. 

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