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7 Early Warning Signs of Bowel Cancer

Woman Experiencing Abdominal Pain

Bowel cancer is Australia’s second most deadly cancer. 1 in 13 Australians will develop bowel cancer in their lifetimes. Luckily, with early detection, 99% of cases can be treated effectively. This blog post will outline 7 signs that you might have bowel cancer so that you can catch it early.

1. Bleeding

Any kind of bleeding from the rectum shouldn’t be ignored. While bright red blood can be from haemorrhoids, which while uncomfortable, usually resolve on their own without treatment, dark red or brown blood is much more concerning as it indicates bleeding further up in the rectum.

2. Change in Bowel Habits

Constipation or diarrhoea can be caused by a number of different factors, such as a change in diet or exercise, stress levels and illnesses. If all of these factors are removed or have not changed, or if the issue persists for more than 2 weeks, it’s time for some professional attention.

3. Weight Loss

For a lot of people, weight loss without any effort is the dream. But if you haven’t made any diet or exercise changes but your weight has been dropping steadily, this can be a sign of an underlying issue. Bowel cancer can affect the way your body is absorbing nutrients and calories, so any weight loss, especially if it’s rapid, needs to be assessed.

4. Anaemia

Anaemia is a deficiency of red blood cells or haemoglobin. Anaemia is caused by iron deficiency, which can develop when you have bowel cancer without you knowing it. If you’re experiencing chronic tiredness, dizziness, shortness of breath or a fast heartbeat, it’s worth getting a blood test to check for anaemia.

5. Abdominal Pain

Any bloating, cramping or other abdominal pain that persists for longer than might happen with food poisoning or other ‘regular’ stomach upsets should be assessed by a professional.

6. Change in Appearance of Stool

If you have a tumour in your colon, this can change the shape of your colon and therefore your stool. If you notice that your stool is thinner or has more mucous than usual, this can be a sign of a deformity or other foreign body in the colon.

7. Feeling of Fullness

If you just passed stool but still feel like you ‘have to go,’ this could be your body telling you there’s something in there it can’t pass, like a tumour or mass. This could be mild constipation also, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.

Along with watching for all of these signs, regular screenings, especially if you are over 50 or have a family history, are an essential way to catch bowel cancer early. Mooney Street Medical supports the National Bowel Screening Program, so if you are aged 50-74, we will provide reminders, care, and support for you to have regular screenings. Remember: prevention is better than cure! Contact us today to be added to the reminder system and have our friendly staff answer any of your questions.