Bowel cancer symptoms: The three signs in your poo you should never ignore

Deborah James discusses 'scary' bowel cancer symptoms

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According to the NHS, if you experience any symptoms of bowel cancer for three weeks or more, you should make an appointment with your doctor. Early diagnosis of bowel cancer saves lives, so don’t delay if you notice any worrying changes to your bowel habits. Here are the signs in your stool you should never ignore.

More than 42,000 Britons are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year, according to Bowel Cancer UK.

A huge 90 percent of all cases of bowel cancer affect people over the age of 50.

Early diagnosis of bowel cancer gives you the best chance at overcoming the disease, so you’ve got to know the warning signs to look out for.

What are the signs of bowel cancer when you go to the toilet?


Bleeding from your bottom when you go to the toilet, or signs of blood in your poo can be a warning sign.

While bleeding from your bottom can be caused by a number of different, less serious, causes like haemorrhoids or an anal fissure, you must get this checked out in case it’s a symptom of bowel cancer.

Blood in your poo can be caused by eating certain foods, including beetroot or too much red food colouring.

In the case of bowel cancer, dark red or brown blood can be coming from your bowel or stomach.

Changes to your poo

If your poo changes in characteristic over time, it’s worth going to the doctor to investigate further.

This can mean having “looser” bowel movements, which is a soft, mushy stool, or for some people passing stools resembling hard nuggets.

If you use the Bristol Stool Chart to check what ‘type’ your poo resembles, this can help in explaining to your doctor without going into too much excruciating detail.

It can feel strange talking to your doctor about your toilet habits, which is why tools like the Bristol Stool Chart can help.

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Talking about your poo might be embarrassing, but it could literally save your life.

Besides, your doctor deals with this sort of thing day in, day out; they probably won’t bat an eyelid and will get on with investigating the issues you’re having.

Needing the toilet more or less often

Symptoms of bowel cancer can include needing to empty your bowels more often, or less frequently.

Another symptom people report is feeling like they haven’t fully emptied their bowels after going to the toilet.

Essentially, any changes to your toilet habits that concern you, and last for three weeks or more, are worth discussing with your doctor.

Keeping a diary of your symptoms can help you to give your doctor a clear picture of what’s been going on, and how long you’ve had symptoms.

Many other conditions can cause changes to your bowel movements, including irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

However, it is crucial for your doctor to investigate bowel cancer first, as it can be a devastating diagnosis if caught too late.

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