It’s Bowel Cancer Awareness Month – how much do you know about signs and symptoms?

April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and Macmillan Cancer Support is encouraging people to be aware of the signs and symptoms of the disease.

By Barbara Craythorn
Monday, 15 April, 2019, 12:27
Sue Green - Senior Information Development Nurse at Macmillan

Bowel cancer is the UK’s fourth most common cancer, but it is also very treatable and the earlier it is diagnosed the easier it is to treat. In the UK from 2013 to 2015, on average more than 4 in 10 (44%) of new cases were in people aged 75 and over. However, whether you’re young or old, female or male, it can affect us all, so it is important to know the symptoms to look out for. Sue Green, Senior Information Development Nurse at Macmillan, said: “Knowing what changes to look for and when to see your doctor could make a real difference. Don’t be scared or embarrassed and don’t ignore them if you have symptoms. Get them checked.” The symptoms of colon cancer may include:

blood in or on your poo (stool), or bleeding from the back passage (rectum) – the blood may be bright red or dark  a change in your normal bowel habit that happens for no obvious reason and lasts longer than three weeks – for example, diarrhoea or constipation  unexplained weight loss pain in your tummy (abdomen) or back passage feeling that you have not emptied your bowel properly after you poo unexplained tiredness, dizziness or breathlessness a lower than normal level of red blood cells (anaemia).

The bowel

Sue added: “These symptoms can be caused by conditions other than bowel cancer, but you should always have them checked by your doctor - don’t try to diagnose yourself. If you do have cancer, the sooner it’s found, the more likely it is to be successfully treated.” If you need support or just want someone to talk to Macmillan Cancer Support is right there with you. Call us for free on 0808 808 00 00 (7 days a week, 8am to 8pm) or visit macmillan.org.uk for information on all types of bowel cancer, support groups in your area and access to our online community. A short film about bowel cancer signs and symptoms can be found here: https://youtu.be/VnsY31k5Di8