Any Emmerdale fans will have seen that one of their beloved characters, Vanessa Woodfield, has recently, as part of her storyline, been diagnosed with bowel cancer.
Storylines like these are a great way to raise awareness and highlight such important conditions, how they are diagnosed and how they are treated. However, it can also worry/panic some people, so below are the signs and symptoms you should look out for.
Bowel cancer is very treatable but the earlier its diagnosed, the easier it is to treat.
Symptoms can include:
- Bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo
There are several possible causes of bleeding from your bottom or blood in your bowel movements (poo). Bright red blood may come from swollen blood vessels (haemorrhoids or piles) in your back passage. It may also be caused by bowel cancer. Dark red or black blood may come from your bowel or stomach. Tell your doctor about any bleeding so they can find out what is causing it.
- A persistent and unexplained change in bowel habit
Tell your GP if you have noticed any persistent and unexplained changes in your bowel habit, especially if you also have bleeding from your back passage. You may have looser poo and you may need to poo more often than normal. Or you may feel as though you’re not going to the toilet often enough or you might not feel as though you’re not fully emptying your bowels.
- Unexplained weight loss
This is less common than some of the other symptoms. Speak to your GP if you have lost weight and you don’t know why. You may not feel like eating if you feel sick, bloated or if you just don’t feel hungry.
- Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
Bowel cancer may lead to a lack of iron in the body, which can cause anaemia (lack of red blood cells). If you have anaemia, you are likely to feel very tired and your skin may look pale.
- A pain or lump in your tummy
You may have pain or a lump in your stomach area (abdomen) or back passage. See your GP if these symptoms don’t go away or if they’re affecting how you sleep or eat.
Most people with these symptoms don’t have bowel cancer, there are many other health problems that can cause similar symptoms such as piles, constipation, anal fissures or IBS.
If you have any symptoms, don’t be embarrassed and don’t ignore them – book an appointment with your GP.
For more information and advice visit Bowel Cancer UK.