Bowel cancer: Symptoms may include pain or lump in your stomach
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Bowel cancer is considered the second biggest cancer killer in the UK, with around 16,800 lives lost due to the condition every year. The good news is that early detection can improve your prognosis and maximise your chances of effective treatment. This makes symptom awareness front and centre, according to colorectal surgeon James Kinross, from King Edward VII Hospital.
Despite its daunting nature, bowel cancer doesn’t always make a grand entrance.
The first symptoms can often be vague and non-specific but knowing what to look for can help.
That’s why Kinross shared four “warning” signs of bowel cancer “not to miss”.
Know when you go
Perhaps not surprising but the first red flags often strike inside the bathroom walls.
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Kinross said: “One potential indicator of bowel cancer is any significant change in your pooing habits, which can vary from person to person.
“For example, pooing more often than normal, or having looser, runnier stools.
“This would be more likely related to an external factor such as stress, eating more fibre or a change in diet, but it’s worth getting yourself checked if the problem persists.”
While paying attention to your bowel movements might make you feel squeamish, even the NHS stresses that any changes in this area are a key symptom.
“With that in mind, you should always have any new lumps, or lumps which have increased in size, checked by your GP.”
Don’t be embarrassed
The expert underlined that early detection is one of the “best” ways to increase your survival outcomes.
Kinross added: “Though talking about your poo – or bowel habits – may seem embarrassing, doctors are there to listen confidentially and without judgement.
“Talking to them will allow them to run the necessary tests and treat you as quickly and efficiently as possible.”