Bowel cancer symptoms: Five signs you need to watch out for when you go to the toilet

Bowel cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, can present itself in five ways when you go for a toilet break. What are the five warning signs you might have the deadly disease?

Cancer Research UK lists the possible symptoms of colorectal cancer in men and women.

The first symptom is “bleeding from the back passage” or having “blood in your poo”.

The second is “a feeling of needing to strain in your back passage (as if you needed to poo), even after opening your bowels”.


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The third symptom could be a change in your normal bowel habits, such as pooping more often.

The fourth symptom of bowel cancer could be experiencing looser poo.

And the fifth indication of the disease could be constipation.

Any of these symptoms can occur in any order and may or may not be combined.

The charity adds other possible symptoms of bowel cancer, as well as the five mentioned above.

Cancer Research add another possible symptom: “A lump that your doctor can feel in your back passage or tummy (abdomen), more commonly on the right side.”

In addition, unexplained weight loss, pain in your abdomen or back passage, and tiredness and breathlessness can also signify bowel cancer.

These symptoms may also reveal less serious health conditions, such as haemorrhoids or inflammatory bowel disease. It’s always best to discuss any health concerns with a GP.

Sometimes, cancer can obstruct the bowels – known as bowel obstruction.

Indicators of a bowel obstruction include cramping pains in the abdomen, feeling bloated, constipation and unable to pass wind and being sick.

A bowel obstruction is a medical emergency. It’s advised to go to your nearest doctor’s surgery or A&E if you think you’re affected.

Risks of bowel cancer

Cancer Research UK cite studies that reveal eating too much red and processed meat increases a person’s risk of bowel cancer.


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The charity says: “Around 13 percent of bowel cancer cases in the UK are linked to eating these meats.”

Processed meat includes bacon, salami, sausages, canned meat and chicken nuggets.

Eating too little fibre is reported to have an even higher associated risk of bowel cancer (30 percent).

Boosting fibre in your diet can be easily done by swapping to brown rice, pasta or bread.

One of the highest risks of developing bowel cancer is advanced age.

Forty percent of bowel cancer cases in the UK each year are diagnosed in people aged 75 and over.

A NHS funded bowel cancer screening test is offered to people over the age of 55.

Between the ages of 60 to 74, those registered to a doctor’s surgery will automatically be invited to do a home testing kit every two years.

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