Colorectal cancer, also known as bowel cancer, is the term used for cancer which starts in the large bowel. The area of the body in which the cancer begins typically determines the name, and as such, bowel cancer is sometimes referred to as rectal cancer or colon cancer. It is one of the most common forms of cancer in the UK.
Statistics show that most patients diagnosed with bowel cancer are in the age bracket of over 60.
What are the symptoms of bowel cancer?
The symptoms of bowel cancer can often be vague and can be easily dismissed, but tend to appear in three main forms. Primarily they tend to include:
- A marked difference in bowel habits, including looser stools and the need to go to the toilet more frequently
- Blood in stools and sometimes mixed up in the stools, which appears to have no obvious cause
- On occasion, abdominal pain or discomfort and bloating, and possibly weight loss.
In some cases, bowel cancer symptoms do not make people feel unwell and are subtle in their nature. Bowel cancer symptoms are typically persistent over a period of weeks, so it is recommended that those who begin to experience the symptoms above wait to see if they get better. This is especially pertinent as some bowel cancer symptoms are very common, meaning they could be caused by other conditions such as haemorrhoids, food poisoning or IBS.
If symptoms persist even after simple treatments, it is advised that they should be taken more seriously and medical advice sought. This is especially the case in patients over the age of 55 years.