Bowel cancer symptoms: What colour is your poo? Two major colour changes that may be signs

Deborah James discusses 'scary' bowel cancer symptoms

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Bowel cancer is an extremely common type of cancer in the UK, but huge numbers of people still aren’t fully aware of the signs to look out for in the toilet. It’s vital that everyone looks out for abnormal changes to their toilet habits – including changes to the colour of their stools.

Bowel cancer is a general term for any cancer that develops in the large bowel, and it may sometimes be known as colon or rectal cancer.

About one in every 20 people in the UK will develop bowel cancer at some point in their lifetime, according to the NHS.

But it’s often diagnosed much later after it’s developed, because the symptoms can be easily mistaken for something less serious.

Everyone should consider checking their stools regularly to look out for any of the key warning signs.

One of the most common signs of bowel cancer is finding blood in your stools.

More often than not, blood in your poo is caused by something less serious – like haemorrhoids.

However, it’s still important to be aware of the colour changes to avoid.

Bowel cancer is most likely to cause bleeding higher up in the bowel, which means your poo could change to a dark red or black colour, according to Cancer Research UK.

“Blood in your poo [stools or faeces] can be a sign of bowel cancer,” it said.

“Blood from higher up in the bowel doesn’t look bright red. It goes dark red or black and can make your poo look like tar.

“This type of bleeding can be a sign of cancer higher up the bowel – or it could be from a bleeding stomach ulcer, for example.

“It is important to go to your doctor if you have any bleeding and get checked.”

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You could also notice some signs of blood on your toilet paper, or the water in the toilet bowl might change colour.

Unusually smelly poo could also be caused by blood mixing in with the faeces.

Speak to a doctor if you’ve had blood in your stools for more than three weeks, said the NHS.

But if your poo is black or very dark red, you should get advice from NHS 111 straight away.

You could lower your risk of bowel cancer by making some small diet or lifestyle changes.

Eating large amounts of red and processed meats have been linked with a higher likelihood of bowel cancer.

Smoking, drinking too much alcohol and obesity could also lead to the disease, the NHS warned.

More than 90 percent of all bowel cancer causes occur in people over the age of 50.

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