The bowel is part of the digestive system, which is necessary for breaking down food and moving undigested waste along towards the rectum to be excreted from the body. It is here, when you are on the toilet, that signs might appear. If you wipe your bottom after excreting faeces and see blood on the tissue paper, it could be a warning sign of bowel cancer, the charity Cancer Research UK confirmed. Another possible telling sign is when smeared and runny faeces line the tissue paper.
This is because “looser poo” could be indicative of bowel cancer; other signs might include:
- Pooping more often
After releasing yourself, you may still feel as though you need to poop; a feeling which may indicate the cancerous lump inside of you.
Cancer Research UK listed out other potential warning signs of bowel cancer, such as:
- Blood in your poo
- Losing weight
- Pain in the abdomen or back passage
As these symptoms could be indicative of other health conditions, it’s advisable to speak to your doctor to identify the root cause.
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The charity recommends trying to book a doctor’s appointment at “different times of the day”.
As it can be difficult to get through by the phone, especially in the mornings, keep trying in order to get through and make an appointment.
Some doctor surgeries provide online bookings via their website, and the NHS App may also be used to book appointments.
Be prepared to have a telephone or video appointment before having a face-to-face consultation.
To get the most out of your doctor’s appointment, the charity has prepared tips for people concerned about bowel cancer.
Firstly, specifically tell your doctor you are concerned about bowel cancer and detail any symptoms that are troubling you.
In order to do this effectively, it will be helpful to jot down:
- When symptoms began
- When they happen
- How often symptoms appear
- If anything makes symptoms better or worse.
Secondly, make your doctor aware of any cancer in your family history.
Face-to-face consultations might involve blood tests and a Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT).
The FIT test requires a sample of your faeces to test for blood that may not be noticeable to the naked eye.
Depending on other symptoms and test results, other examinations might include a sigmoidoscopy and/or colonoscopy.
What’s a sigmoidoscopy?
A flexible sigmoidoscopy is when a trained doctor uses a thin, flexible tube with a small light and camera at the end to look inside the lower part of the large bowel.
The examination can take up to 15 minutes, but you can expect to be at the hospital for up to two hours.
A colonoscopy, on the other hand, looks at the entire large bowel and may require dietary adjustments beforehand.
For example, you may be asked to eat a low-fibre diet for two days before the colonoscopy.
“You should get written instructions before your test about what you need to do,” Cancer Research UK stated.