Bowel cancer, as the name suggests, begins in the large intestine – a part of the digestive system that includes the colon and rectum. Due to the location of the cancer, it often interferes with bowel habits, although symptoms can be difficult to spot. Research published in the journal Family Practice sought to identify the most common indicators of bowel cancer.
- Blood in poop when associated with pain or soreness is more often caused by piles (hemorrhoids)
- A change in bowel habits or abdominal pain is usually caused by something you ate
- A change in bowel habit to go less often, along with harder poop, is usually not caused by serious illness – it may be worth trying laxatives before seeing a GP.
“These symptoms need to be taken more seriously as we age and when they persist despite simple treatments,” adds the NHS.
However, he advises people to see a GP if they have any of the symptoms of bowel cancer for three weeks or more.
How to reduce your risk
The exact cause of bowel cancer is not known, but a number of factors can increase your risk.
Your risk of developing cancer of the intestine (colon and rectum) depends on many factors, including age, genetics, and lifestyle.
However, having one or more risk factors does not mean that you will definitely get bowel cancer.
Many studies have shown that eating a lot of red and processed meat increases the risk of bowel cancer.
According to Cancer Research UK, it is estimated that around 13 in 100 cases of bowel cancer (around 13%) in the UK are linked to the consumption of these meats.
Processed meat is any meat that has been processed to preserve it and / or add flavor – for example, bacon, salami, sausage, canned meat, or chicken nuggets.
Other risk factors include:
- Being overweight and obese
- Physical activity
- Smoking tobacco
- Family history
- Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
- Previous cancer
- Medical conditions
- Benign polyps in the intestine
How is it treated?
Your treatment depends on the stage and whether you have colon or rectal cancer, notes Cancer Research UK.
“The main treatments are chemotherapy, surgery, radiotherapy and chemoradiotherapy”, adds the association.