Bowel cancer: Three colours in your poo could be a sign – It ‘could save your life’
Bowel cancer: Dr Philippa Kaye lists the symptoms
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“Thinking or talking about toilet habits might make you feel uncomfortable, but ultimately being in tune with your bowels could save your life,” said Dr Robin Clark, Medical Director for Bupa Global & UK. Research from Bupa found that 45 percent of UK adults don’t know how a healthy poo looks like. What’s worse, around 23 percent have never even checked their stool.
It won’t come as a shock that due to the position of bowel cancer, the warning signs might appear when you go to the loo.
However, if you don’t know what to look for, checking you poo won’t be sufficient.
Bupa Wellbeing Index asked 8,000 UK adults about their general health and found that over one in three wouldn’t know what to look for in the toilet bowl, including lasting changes to colour and consistency.
Fortunately, there are three colours that could point to the scary diagnosis – bright or dark red and black.
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One of the main signs of bowel cancer is blood in your poo, however, the blood could present with various colours.
Bupa explains that the blood might colour your stool bright or dark red on the surface.
If the blood isn’t mixed in with your stool, you might notice it in the toilet bowel.
“Occasionally it can make your poo look black, like tar,” they note.
Cancer Research UK explains that blood from higher up in the bowel doesn’t appear bright red.
The blood from this location will appear dark red or black. “This type of bleeding can be a sign of cancer higher up the bowel,” the charity shares.
While blood in your poo could be a symptom of bowel cancer, it can also be triggered by a different condition.
For example, blood in the stool can be also caused by piles, also known as haemorrhoids.
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“See your GP if you are worried about any symptoms that you think could be caused by cancer in the bowel,” Cancer Research UK recommends.
According to Bupa, other signs of bowel cancer can include:
- Changes in your bowel habits – Your poo may be looser (diarrhoea). You may feel like you need to go more often or more urgently or you might feel like you haven’t fully emptied your bowel when you’ve been.
- You might feel extremely tired and weak (fatigued) – This can be due to anaemia, which means you have a lower than normal level of red blood cells.
- Pain or discomfort in your tummy (abdomen) or back passage that doesn’t go away.
- Losing weight when you haven’t been trying.
Dr Clark added: “If anything doesn’t look or feel right, or you’ve noticed an unexplained change of some sort, it’s crucial that you seek medical help immediately, no matter what your age.
“When caught early, 98 percent of people with bowel cancer will survive for a year or more, compared to almost half the number when the disease is diagnosed at the latest stage.
“That’s why it’s also important to attend cancer screening invitations.”
During a GP appointment, your doctor might ask about your symptoms and examine your tummy or bottom.
From colonoscopy to colonography, there are different tests that could help determine whether you have the diagnosis.
There’s also plenty you can do to cut your risk of this condition; the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) recommends:
- Eating less red and processed meat
- Eating more fibre
- Keeping hydrated
- Maintaining a healthy body weight
- Being more physically active
- Limiting your alcohol intake
- Stopping smoking.
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