I said in my previous post that I’d discuss bowel cancer symptoms, because it’s so important to spot them early and do something about it. Something that I probably didn’t do as well as I could have.

Main Bowel Cancer Symptoms

Blood in the stool

This may be bright red and obvious, which means it’s coming from closer to the rectum end of the colon. It might, however, be much darker, which means it’s coming from  closer to the appendix end of affairs.

A confusing factor here is haemorrhoids . Piles also has the symptom of bright red blood in the stool.

Change of Bowel Habit

It can go either way, diarrhoea or constipation. But it needs to be unexplainable, and persistent, as opposed to right after you ate a spicy meal or drank too much.

A confusing factor here is dieting. A change in dietary habits can also lead to a change in bowel habit.

Unexplained Weight Loss

If you’re experiencing weight loss without dieting or increasing your amounts of exercise, this should ring alarm bells.

It’s worth noting that, while I’ve experienced all the other bowel cancer symptoms, to some extent, I’ve never had this one. The only one that might have been useful to me…

Unusual Levels of Tiredness

This can be both types of tiredness; sleepiness and physical exhaustion. Again, it needs to be unexplainable. If you’re working later or longer than usual, expect to be sleepy. If you’ve taken up a new sport or fitness regime, expect to be exhausted.

Photo by M. Plt on Unsplash

A confusing factor here is, once again, dieting. If you’re on a diet, you can end up feeling both types of tired, for fairly long periods. This can mask bowel cancer symptoms.

Abdominal pain

Because of the route the colon takes around your abdomen, (up one side, across above the belly button, down the other side, and out at the back passage), be wary of any new, persistent pain in this whole region. Or lump. Particularly if you notice the pain varies with your meals.

This pain should not be ignored. I had a particularly sharp pain for a while, which I mentioned to a nurse on the phone, but probably played it down a bit because I had a surgery planned two weeks later. The pain lessened after a while anyway… because my bowel ruptured at the point of the tumour. This eased the pressure and reduced the pain. But did lead to me be being, literally, full of… well, you get the idea.

So, if you’re feeling a pain in your abdomen and you’re experiencing any of the other symptoms; get it checked out.

Other Bowel Cancer Symptom Sites

There are many sites, in many countries listing the signs and symptoms of bowel cancer. While these sites all say roughly the same as the list above, there are some variations and are worth a look.

Some of the sites covering bowel cancer symptoms also have a symptom checker. These should only be used as a guide and not taken as a diagnosis.

For example, the Bowel Cancer Symptom Checker on the NHS Choices site, would have misdiagnosed me. It suggested that I was just constipated and had haemorrhoids. It then said that if I get better, nothing further needs to be done; if not, go see the GP. But I did get better from the symptom in question, and I was in denial anyway.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; just because you have piles, it doesn’t mean you can’t have cancer as well. Err on the side of caution. Get yourself checked.

The other thing is to try and avoid constant yo-yo dieting. It isn’t a good way to lose weight, it isn’t good for you and it can mask the symptoms of bowel cancer. Better by far to adopt a change of lifestyle. And I know how difficult this is, believe me, but please try.

These are some of the sites listing bowel cancer symptoms:

4 thoughts on “Bowel Cancer Symptoms and Signs To Look Out For”

  1. Hi Paul, first of all I want to say I hope you are doing well. I am contacting you because my 34 yr old son has been struggling with many of these symptoms. He has the traveling pain across his belly, piles and bleeding. He has been yo-yo dieting for several years. I’m concerned about his health at this time. He doesn’t have medical insurance and won’t have it till July. My concern is that may be to late. I don’t want to assume that he has colon cancer but I do want him to be proactive. Looking for advice. Thank you!

    1. Hi Sonia,
      Thank you, I’m currently doing very well.
      I’m really sorry to hear about your son, this must be a worrying time for both of you. The first thing I want to say is that even if it is colon cancer, the disease takes a very long time to advance, so the time between now and July will not make anything ‘too late’. Please try not to worry on that front. I can remember how slowly things seem to move when you’re in the pre-diagnosis and diagnosis stages of the process. That said, from what you’ve described, these symptoms cover a lot of options; the chances of it being cancer in a 34 year old are incredibly small.
      This, however, is no reason not to take what precautions you can. I would suggest some form of gentle laxative, if he’s in any way constipated. Nothing too heavy, just enough to make life easier, but also to relieve any pressure on the wall of the colon just in case there is a tumour. Additionally, I would suggest taking a daily vitamin D3 supplement. I looked into the benefits of that for colon cancer, a while ago, and was pleasantly surprised by what I found. I’ve been taking it ever since. You can find my post on the subject here: http://www.cancerdad.co.uk/can-vitamin-d3-treat-cancer/
      The only other thing I can suggest is for your son to continue to lose weight and improve his fitness. Nothing too drastic; look to lose a couple of pounds a week. This will benefit him regardless of whether or not it’s cancer. But if it does turn out to be colon cancer, the lighter he is, the easier surgeries are to recover from. I find that working from a calorie calculator is very helpful. The one I use is this: https://www.calculator.net/calorie-calculator.html. Have your son input his details, along with an accurate measure of the amount of exercise he’s doing, and then stay within the calorie limits. I’ve lost more than 50lb since Christmas by sticking to this process…
      I hope this is useful. If I can help with anything else, let me know.
      All the best to you and your son,

    1. Hi There,
      When I was struggling to sleep, due to nausea from chemotherapy, or because I was recovering from a surgery, I found that being propped up in bed helped.
      I tries a couple of different techniques but ended up using ‘V’ pillows, which I found gave me the best amount of rest. The ‘V’ needs to be upside down, so your head rests on the angle.
      One of the best arrangements I found involved two normal pillows and two ‘V’ pillows. I’d start with a normal pillow at the bottom and then put a ‘V’ pillow on that. Next I’d put another normal pillow, but arranged the other way, like an ‘I’ on the bed. This was to support my back by filling in the spaces left by the other pillows. Finally I’d have another ‘V’ pillow on top, which would not only support my head, put also my arms after everything was so built up.
      The main problem with this arrangement was that I’d often slide down the bed. To counter this, something can be put under the bottom sheet, in line with the upper legs. This will stop you moving down the bed, without getting moved out of the way.
      It will require some trial and error, but I think your mom should be able to get some good rest, this way.
      I hope this helps and wish you and your mom all the best,

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