Bowel cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, most commonly develops from pre-cancerous growths called polyps. The deadly disease is best identified early to increase chances of survival. What might your faeces be telling you?
The bowel is part of the digestive system – the large bowel absorbs water from undigested waste and moves it along towards the colon.
Waste (poo) is stored in the rectum until it passes out of the body.
This is why it makes sense that bowel cancer can reveal itself in your faeces.
Cleveland Clinic states narrow faeces are an indicator of bowel cancer.
Bloody stools can also be a symptom of the deadly disease, as can greater incidences of diarrhoea and constipation.
The medical centre adds that not feeling like you’ve completely emptied your bowels after going to the bathroom is another sign of bowel cancer.
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This can be accompanied by other gastrointestinal problems, such as vomiting, cramps and bloating.
Additionally, unexplained weight loss and anaemia may also be symptoms of this specific type of cancer.
Bowel Cancer UK adds there are other symptoms, aside from toilet troubles, that could also signal bowel cancer.
The charity states “extreme tiredness for no obvious reason” and “a pain or lump in your tummy” could indicate the disease.
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Bowel Cancer UK report that bowel cancer affects around 268,000 people in the UK.
The charity adds: “More than 16,000 people die from bowel cancer in the UK every year.”
The NHS currently offers bowel cancer screening for people over the age of 60 within England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
People in Scotland are invited for bowel cancer screening from the age of 50.
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The screening is offered every two years until you reach the age of 74.
If you’re aged 75 and over, you can ask for a screening test – which will be sent to your home address – on the free bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60.
It’s known that some factors increase a person’s chances of developing bowel cancer.
Bowel Cancer UK lists six risk factors people should be aware of.
Firstly, anyone over the age of 50 is at a higher risk of developing bowel cancer.
Secondly, a family history of the condition also increases your risk of the disease.
Thirdly, the discovery of non-cancerous polyps in your bowel can increase your chances of developing bowel cancer, as can inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
Type 2 diabetes and leading an unhealthy lifestyle are also risk factors.