There are three bowel cancer symptoms that you need to look out for. The first symptom of bowel cancer is blood in your stools (faeces). The second symptom is a change in bowel habit.s This could be needing to go to the toilet more often or having looser stools when you do go. The final symptom of bowel cancer to watch out for is pain in the abdominal (tummy) area.
If you have one or more of these symptoms, you need to know that the majority of people with these signs do not have bowel cancer.
An important factor to consider is age. Most people who develop bowel cancer are over 60 years old, therefore keeping an eye out for the three symptoms of bowel cancer becomes more important as you get older. This is particularly true when If these symptoms become more persistent despite simple treatments
Bowel cancer is often seen in patients as a combination of one or more symptoms:
- an ongoing change in bowel habit. If you need to go to the toilet more often than normal or have blood in your stool or experience looser stools.
- an ongoing change in bowel habit that is twinned with abdominal pain but without blood in the stool
- stools that contain blood without symptoms of haemorrhoids (eg: pain, itching, discomfort, soreness or a lump hanging from the back passage)
- bloating, abdominal pain and discomfort often after eating, causing a reduced amount of food to be eaten and weight loss
You may not necessarily feel ill as often the causes of bowel cancer can be subtle.
Bowel Cancer and Colon Polyps
Bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer and early detection of the disease is important. The sooner it is picked up, the great the chances that it can be successfully treated. When treated at the earliest stages, survival rate exceeds 90%.
The vast majority of colon cancers are developed from polyps. Benign tumours can develop in the colon and are often not known about as they can remain painless and undetected for years. These early, hidden stages of cancer can be detected by a straightforward test for blood in the stool.
Carrying out a Bowel Cancer Test
Sometimes, when you are worried about symptoms that could be related to bowel cancer, you might want to carry out a bowel cancer test at home. A bowel cancer test is often known as a faecal occult blood test.
A faecal occult blood test (FOB test) allows you to reduce your risk of bowel cancer by detecting the early stages of the disease. It is recommend that, after the age of 40, all adults should carry out a test like this on an annual basis. If there is a history of colon cancer or polyps in your family, we would advise that you start to perform regular tests even earlier.
The FOB test can detect even the smallest amounts of blood in a stool. Sometimes the blood cannot even be seen yet by the human eye. Colon polyps can bleed and colon cancer will show blood at a very early point in time. If blood is detected in the stool whilst carrying out this test, you should contact your GP and make an appointment to investigate the problem further.
A faecal occult blood test (FOB test) is a simple test that can be carried out at home with no need to send off the sample to a laboratory. Results can be seen in minutes. Your eating habits do no need to be restricted and you can take the test at any time of the day.
Photo Credit: Simon James on Flickr
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