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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What are the common bowel cancer symptoms to look out for?

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  • Bowel Cancer Australia is the leading community-funded charity dedicated to prevention, early diagnosis, research, quality treatment and care for everyone affected by bowel cancer. We … View Profile

    Bowel cancer affects both men and women, young and old.
    Possible signs of bowel cancer include a change in bowel habit or blood in the stool.

    In its early stages, bowel cancer often has no obvious symptoms.  This is why it is important to screen. Like most diseases, bowel cancer can often cause symptoms which are similar to other unrelated conditions.

    If you experience any of the following symptoms, you should consult your doctor.

    Symptoms, for both men and women, can include:

    • A recent, persistent change in bowel habit to looser, more diarrhoea-like motions, going to the toilet more often, or trying to go (i.e. irregularity in someone whose bowels have previously been regular)
    • Blood (either bright red or very dark) in the stool
    • Diarrhoea, constipation, or feeling that the bowel does not empty completely
    • Frequent gas pains, bloating, fullness or cramps
    • Stools that are narrower than usual
    • A lump or mass in your tummy
    • Weight loss for no known reason
    • Persistent, severe abdominal pain, which has come on recently for the first time
    • (especially in an older age group)
    • Feeling very tired
    • Vomiting
    If you have any of these symptoms, it does not mean that you have bowel cancer, but it is very important you discuss them with your doctor. 
    Whilst bowel cancer is more common in people aged 50+, bowel cancer increasingly affects all age groups.
    If you have higher-risk symptoms, do not accept ‘you’re too young to have bowel cancer' as an explanation for your symptoms - ask your doctor to be referred for further investigations.
    Information taken from the Bowel Cancer Australia website

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