There are almost 43,000 new cases of bowel cancer in the UK every year, making it the fourth most common form of the disease. Also known as colorectal cancer, it most commonly presents with symptoms involving changes in toilet habits. However, there can be more “subtle” signs to look for.
“A diagnosis of anaemia may be a sign that you’re bleeding internally, even if you haven’t noticed blood in your poo.
“The lack of iron in the body can leave you feeling tired.”
Other signs of anaemia include:
- Shortness of breath
- Noticeable heartbeats (heart palpitations)
- Pale skin.
Dr Clark continued: “Weight loss is less common than some of the other symptoms, but bowel cancer can prevent you from being able to absorb all the nutrients from your food.
“You might not feel like eating if you feel sick, bloated or if you just don’t feel hungry.”
The early signs of bowel cancer
He warned that the disease could cause changes to your stools in its earliest stages.
“Changes in the colour, shape, and texture of your poo that last longer than a few days can reveal signs of infection, digestive issues or more serious problems, such as cancer,” he said.
“Although persistent constipation can be a sign of bowel cancer – having looser stools or feeling the need to go to the toilet more frequently is a more common symptom.
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He added: “Bowel cancer is one of the most common cancers, so it’s vital to speak to a medical professional if you notice symptoms.
“If anything doesn’t look or feel right, or you’ve noticed an unexplained change of some sort, it’s crucial that you seek medical help immediately, no matter what your age.”
The NHS says bowel cancer can also cause abdominal pain that is always brought on by eating, as well as unintentional weight loss, being sick and constant swelling of the tummy, which are all combined with abdominal pain.
If you are concerned you could have bowel cancer you should speak with your GP.