No-one likes to speak openly about their bowels but it is really important for all of us to be aware of the symptoms of colon cancer and to report any changes to your doctor.

Heightened awareness of colon cancer is particularly important for anyone over 45.  Any abdominal symptoms or change in bowel habit should be discussed immediately with your doctor, whatever your age.

The following list of symptoms of colon cancer has been taken from an article written by Dr. Mark Porter in The Times newspaper about bowel cancer, what to look out for and to report:

  • Bleeding — blood, on the toilet paper, mixed with your stool or in the pan — is a relatively common symptom and often nothing to do with cancer. However, it might be, so every case should be reported and an underlying cause determined. And by the way, irritable bowel syndrome never causes bleeding
     
  • A persistent change in bowel habit (typically six weeks or more). Any prolonged change is suspicious, but loose bowels/diarrhoea, particularly if you need to get to the loo in a hurry, tend to be more worrying.

  • Cancer can also cause pain in your abdomen or back passage, but most cases are painless

  • Unexplained weight loss. Always a red flag and not just linked to bowel cancer
  • A persistent change in bowel habit (typically six weeks or more). Any prolonged change is suspicious, but loose bowels/diarrhoea, particularly if you need to get to the loo in a hurry, tend to be more worrying.

  • Shortness of breath and fatigue. Bowel cancers can cause bleeding for months without you noticing, leading to severe iron deficiency and anaemia

Please don't put it off: any abdominal symptoms or change in bowel habit should be discussed immediately with your doctor whatever your age. 

We recommend that you are screened every five to seven years for this preventable type of cancer, from your mid-40s.  

Get screened for colon cancer