Bowel cancer symptoms
Some people have no symptoms and the bowel cancer is found through screening. However, many people with bowel cancer do experience symptoms. These can include:
- blood in faeces (poo) or on the toilet paper
- a change in bowel habits, such as diarrhoea, constipation or smaller, more frequent bowel movements
- a change in the look of faeces (e.g. narrower or with mucus)
- a feeling of fullness or bloating in the abdomen (belly) or a strange sensation in the rectum, often during a bowel movement
- feeling that the bowel hasn’t emptied completely
- losing weight for no obvious reason
- weakness or fatigue
- rectal or anal pain
- a lump in the rectum or anus
- abdominal pain or swelling
- a low red blood cell count (anaemia or iron deficiency), which can cause tiredness and weakness
- a blockage in the bowel.
These symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, such as haemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis (inflammation of pouches in the bowel), inflammatory bowel disease, or an anal fissure (cracks in the skin lining the anus). See your doctor if you are worried, the symptoms are ongoing or there is any bleeding.
Podcast for people affected by cancer
A/Prof David A Clark, Senior Colorectal Surgeon, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, QLD, The University of Queensland and The University of Sydney; Yvette Adams, Consumer; Dr Cameron Bell, Gastroenterologist, Royal North Shore Hospital, NSW; Katie Benton, Advanced Dietitian Cancer Care, Sunshine Coast University Hospital and Queensland Health, QLD; John Clements, Consumer; Dr Fiona Day, Medical Oncologist, Calvary Mater Newcastle, NSW; Alana Fitzgibbon, Clinical Nurse Consultant, GastroIntestinal Cancers, Cancer Services, Royal Hobart Hospital, TAS; Prof Alexander Heriot, Consultant Colorectal Surgeon, Director Cancer Surgery, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, and Director, Lower GI Tumour Stream, Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre, VIC; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Dr Kirsten van Gysen, Radiation Oncologist, Nepean Cancer Care Centre, NSW.
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