Bowel cancer is one of the most common cancers to be diagnosed in the UK. You should consider speaking to a doctor if you notice that your stools are looser than normal, or if you’re going to the toilet more often.
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.
The early warning signs of bowel cancer can be very subtle, and many people may not be aware that they’re at risk.
That’s why it’s crucial that you always check your stools after using the toilet.
There are three key hidden warning signs that you should particularly be looking out for.
Most bowel cancer patients notice one of three changes to their toilet routine.
Some people report going to pass stools more often than normal, while others say their poo is looser than normal.
Finding blood in your stools is another key sign of bowel cancer.
The blood may not necessarily make your poo turn red – it could become a maroon, or red/brown colour.
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The NHS said: “The three main symptoms of bowel cancer are blood in the stools [faeces], a change in bowel habit, such as more frequent, looser stools, and abdominal [tummy] pain.
“However, these symptoms are very common. Blood in the stools is usually caused by haemorrhoids [piles], and a change in bowel habit or abdominal pain is often the result of something you have eaten.
“As the vast majority of people with bowel cancer are over the age of 60, these symptoms are more important as people get older.
“These symptoms are also more significant when they persist in spite of simple treatments.
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But, just because you have looser stools, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have bowel cancer.
You should still have it checked by a doctor if you also develop any other symptoms of bowel cancer, however.
The symptoms are far more likely to be caused by something less serious, including constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, or Crohn’s disease.
More than 40,000 new cases of bowel cancer are diagnosed in the UK every year.
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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 per cent of all bowel cancer causes occur in people over the age of 50.
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