Would you be able to name the five most common symptoms of bowel cancer? If you answered yes then you are in the minority, according to a recent study by the charity Bowel Cancer UK.


Could you Spot the Symptoms?

In a poll of 4,000 UK adults carried out in April 2018, the charity found that only a quarter of people (25%) could list the five most common symptoms associated with bowel cancer.

More then one in three people (35%) couldn’t name a single symptom.

Nearly half of all men taking part (45%) were unable to spot any of the signs of cancer.

Bowel cancer is the UK’s fourth most common cancer and our second biggest cancer killer. The disease is responsible for around 16,000 deaths a year so the survey findings are described as “alarming” by Bowel Cancer UK.


Symptoms of Bowel Cancer

In case you were wondering, the five most common symptoms of bowel cancer are:

  • Bleeding when you go for a poo – this might be bright red, dark red or black.
  • Persistent and unexplained change of bowel habit – your poo may be looser or you may need to poo more often. Sometimes you might feel as though your bowels aren’t completely emptying.
  • Pain or lump in your tummy or bottom
  • Unexplained weight loss – you may feel sick or bloated or you may have lost your appetite.
  • Unexplained tiredness or fatigue – bowel cancer can lead to a lack of iron in the body which can cause anaemia.

Fifty three per cent of those surveyed were able to name blood in your poo as one of the possible symptoms. The other four symptoms achieved far lower awareness. Thirteen per cent of people would recognise a change of bowel habit as a possible symptom of bowel cancer but just 2% would link extreme tiredness or fatigue with the disease.


Early diagnosis of bowel cancer saves lives

If you are one of those people who scores low on awareness for bowel cancer, it’s worth spending a few minutes getting to know the possible symptoms – it could save your life.

Bowel cancer is very treatable if it is caught early. In fact, nearly everyone diagnosed at the earliest stage will survive the disease. Sadly, however, only around 15% of people are diagnosed with bowel cancer at this stage and more people need to be aware of the symptoms so that they visit their GP sooner.

The longer the cancer goes undiagnosed, the more chance it has to spread to other parts of your body. Once it does this, your chances of survival are far lower.

Around 42,000 people a year in the UK are diagnosed with bowel cancer. More than nine out of 10 new cases (94%) are people over the age of 50 although it can affect people of any age.

One in 14 men and one in 19 women will be diagnosed with the condition during their lifetime. Bowel cancer affects the large bowel which is made up of the colon and the rectum. For this reason, sometimes it is called colorectal cancer.

If you are invited to take part in bowel cancer screening it is important that you do so as early diagnosis of the disease (often before there are any symptoms) is the key to saving lives.


Colonoscopy London

If you are over 50 and want to take a preventative approach to your healthcare, a colonoscopy is the most thorough test for diagnosing colorectal cancers.

GI Doctors offer private colonoscopy testing in the comfort of one of our London practices.

Read how to prepare for a colonoscopy and what to expect

Whilst the test is not something people look forward to, the benefits far outweigh the small discomfort and ultimately could be the thing that saves your life, or the life of someone you love.

Contact our our team to book an appointment


Working with a specialist that can promptly diagnose and monitor your symptoms, will give you the best chance to get back to feeling your best.