Signs and symptoms of rectal cancer

The symptoms of bowel cancer may include:

  • blood in, or on, your stools (bowel motions) – the blood may be bright red or dark
  • a change in your normal bowel habit, such as diarrhoea or constipation, that happens for no obvious reason and lasts longer than three weeks
  • unexplained weight loss
  • pain in the tummy (abdomen) or back passage
  • feeling that you haven’t emptied your bowel properly after a bowel motion
  • unexplained tiredness.

Sometimes, the cancer can cause a blockage (obstruction) in the bowel. The person may feel constipated and bloated, be sick (vomit) and have tummy pain.

Although these symptoms can be caused by conditions other than bowel cancer, you should always have them checked by your doctor.

If you have symptoms that don’t improve within a few weeks, or if your symptoms get worse, it’s important that you’re referred to a specialist for tests to find out what the problem is.

Back to Understanding rectal cancer

What is cancer?

There are more than 200 different kinds of cancer, each with its own name and treatment.

The bowel

The bowel is part of our digestive system and is made up of the small bowel and the large bowel.