Physical

Top expert warns of two bowel cancer symptoms that may be early signs of disease

A top expert has urged people to be on the lookout for the first signs of bowel cancer that could help get an early diagnosis.

Dr Suba M, who is the director of science, health and wellness at Holland Barrett, issued the message to people so awareness of what is the fourth most common cancer in the UK is raised.

Getting an early diagnosis is key, with Dr Suba saying that there are two symptoms we should all be aware of, reports the Daily Record.

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Formed in the large bowel, bowel cancer is often called colon or rectal cancer, based on the exact location of where the disease started.

There are around 42,900 new bowel cancer cases in the UK every year – the equivalent of nearly 120 every day.

Due to the location of the disease, bowel cancer can present with symptoms that appear when people visit the toilet, but many bowel cancer symptoms can overlap with the likes of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and diarrhea.

It’s why Dr Suba has called on people to be aware.

“Usually, it’s kind of blood that’s mixed in with the stools that you kind of worry about [and] change in bowel habits,” she said.

“These are the first two things that you think about.”

According to the NHS, a change in a person’s bowel habits can include anything from pooing more often to having looser and runnier poos.

Other common bowel cancer signs include the loss of weight, but Dr Suba warned that this “tends to happen much later”.



Many symptoms of bowel cancer can be similar to IBS

If symptoms persist for more than a fortnight, she urges people to go visit their doctor.

“It’s not usually just one thing and if you have bowel movements with a bit of blood, don’t be alarmed, notice it but then make sure that you follow it up,” she said.

“But if you do have any symptoms, definitely get that checked out.

“Not all people who have these symptoms will end up being diagnosed with [bowel cancer] but it’s better to get it checked out.”

While Dr Suba has called on people to look out for those two symptoms, the NHS and Cancer Research UK say there are many other signs to be aware of too.

These include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Discomfort or bloating that’s brought on by eating
  • The need or feeling to empty bowels – even after just doing so
  • A lump in the back passage
  • tiredness

The NHS warns that anyone experiencing these symptoms should take them “more seriously”, especially if they are older and if they persist.

“If you’re over a certain age and you’re eligible for NHS screening, please, do that, I know it feels a bit uncomfortable …but I would highly recommend people to do that,” said Dr Suba.

As for the best tips to avoiding bowel cancer, then the doctor has a straightforward approach.

“The main thing is [to eat] fresh whole food and make sure that you’re not taking lots of ultra-processed or inflammatory food,” she said.

“It’s not about one thing because the risk is multifactorial. But making sure that you take as much fiber and keep your bowel moving is far more beneficial than any specific superfood.”

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