You will usually start by seeing your GP, who will feel your tummy (abdomen) and may examine your back passage (a rectal examination). To do this, your GP places a gloved finger into your back passage to feel for any lumps or swellings. This may be uncomfortable, but it will be less uncomfortable if you are able to relax. Let your GP know if you find the rectal examination painful, as it’s important that they tell the hospital specialist.
You may have a blood test to check for anaemia (a low number of red blood cells). You may also have blood tests to check whether your liver and kidneys are working normally.
If your GP is unsure what the problem is, or thinks that your symptoms could be caused by cancer, they will refer you to a hospital specialist. You will usually be referred to either a surgeon or a specialist in bowel conditions (a gastroenterologist).
If a cancer is suspected, you should be seen at the hospital within two weeks.