Understanding Bowel cancer

Bowel cancer (or colorectal cancer) can occur in the large intestine (colon), rectum (back passage) or anus (opening to back passage).

There are several risk factors for developing bowel cancer including age, genetics and lifestyle factors (diet, being overweight, lack of exercise & increased alcohol intake).

It is important that if you have any symptoms of bowel cancer that you see a doctor to help manage things further. 


Main symptoms include change in your usual bowel habit or blood in your faeces. These can also be symptoms of other conditions, however it is really important to discuss these symptoms with a doctor.

Symptoms of bowel cancer may include:

  • Change in your usual bowel habit 
  • Blood in faeces
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lump to anus or abdomen
  • Weight loss (unintentional)
  • Feeling tired as a result of anaemia (low blood count)

Other causes for bleeding from your rectum:

Piles (haemorrhoids)

Passing bright red blood from your anus or when passing faeces is also a common symptom of piles (dilated blood vessels that bleed on passing faeces). 

If the blood is darker then this may indicate blood loss from higher up the gastrointestinal tract and could be due to stomach ulcers or more serious causes such as cancer higher up in the bowel.

What should I do If I have any of the symptoms

Your doctor will take a full history of your symptoms and then usually examine your abdomen. They may also wish to examine your back passage by inserting a gloved finger into your rectum (DRE – digital rectal examination). 

Blood Tests

Blood tests may help check your full blood count to see whether you are anaemic.

Stool Tests

Stool tests (FIT test – faecal Immunochemical Test) may be done to help identify whether there is any non-visible blood present, which may indicate bowel pathology such as cancer. 

A negative result is usually reassuring for most people and it is unlikely that you will have bowel cancer. Sometimes your GP may still refer you for further investigastions depeding on your symptoms or blood results. 

A positive result may also be due to other non cancerous conditions such as polyps (non cancerous growths from your bowel). 

However, it is necessary to have other investigations if your FIT test is positive to help determine the cause, usually in the way of a camera test (colonsocpy) or scans (CT scan). 

This FIT test is also used as part of a national screening programme for bowel cancer. More information on bowel screening is available via this link: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/bowel-cancer-screening/


If you have any concerns or symptoms related to bowel cancer, don’t hesitate to reach out to us and contact us via the “Book an Appointment” button. Schedule an appointment to discuss your risk factors & symptoms. Early detection can make a significant difference in treatment outcomes and overall prostate health

If you are worried about any symptoms described in this blog or have any concerns or questions about bowel cancer please book an appointment to discuss things further with a GP at Extracellular.

Thanks for Reading our Bowel Cancer blog!

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