Colorectal cancer is a term for cancer that develops either in the colon or the rectum. Both of them have many common features. The main symptoms of bowel cancer are: blood in the stools, more frequent and looser stools, and tummy (abdominal) pain. Though, these symptoms are very common and not always tell about colorectal cancer. For example, change in your bowel habit can be caused by something you’ve eaten, and blood in the stools can be result of hemorrhoids. People who are over 60 years old are more predisposed to developing bowel cancer. That is why it is very important to pay attention to the symptoms, especially if these persist in spite of simple treatments.
Most of the people who have colorectal cancer have one of the following symptoms combinations:
- Constant changes in the bowel's habit, which make a person to go to the toilet more frequently and have looser stools with blood in or on their stools.
- Blood in the stools without any hemorrhoid symptoms, like discomfort, soreness, itching and pain.
- Abdominal pains, feeling of discomfort or bloating that appears after eating. Sometimes, it also affects the amount of food eaten and weight loss.
Bowel cancer can have subtle symptoms that not always make you feel ill.
If you have one of the symptoms described above, see your GP to discuss if any tests are needed. Most probably, your doctor will make an examination of your abdomen and bottom to check if you don't have lumps. You’ll be also asked to give a simple blood check for iron deficiency anemia. This will show if there is a bleeding from your bowel. In some situations, your doctor may ask you to give some tests in a hospital in order to see if there are no severe causes of your symptoms. In some cases the symptoms persist after stopping the treatment, make sure to contact your doctor regardless the severity of the symptoms or your age. Sometimes bowel cancer may result in stopping the digestive waste passing through your bowel. This condition is known as bowel obstruction and requires medical emergency. If you suspect bowel obstruction, don’t wait and see your GP as soon as possible. If it’s impossible, go to the emergency department of your nearest hospital.