Symptoms of bowel cancer

The signs and symptoms of bowel cancer and when to see your GP.

What are the symptoms of bowel cancer?

The symptoms of bowel cancer may include:

  • blood in or on your poo (stools), or bleeding from the back passage (rectum) – the blood may be bright red or dark
  • a change in your normal bowel habit that happens for no obvious reason and lasts longer than three weeks – for example, diarrhoea or constipation
  • unexplained weight loss
  • pain in your tummy (abdomen) or back passage
  • feeling that you have not emptied your bowel properly after you poo
  • unexplained tiredness, dizziness or breathlessness
  • a lower than normal level of red blood cells (anaemia).

Sometimes the cancer can cause a blockage (obstruction) in the bowel. You may:

  • feel constipated and bloated
  • have tummy pain
  • be sick (vomit).

These symptoms can be caused by conditions other than bowel cancer, but you should always have them checked by your doctor. It is important that your GP refers you to a specialist if:

  • you have symptoms that do not improve within a few weeks
  • your symptoms get worse.

They can do tests to find out what might be causing the symptoms.

We understand that showing any symptoms of what could be cancer is worrying. The most important thing is to speak to your GP as soon as possible. We're also here if you need someone to talk to. You can:

You can also visit our Bowel cancer support group on the Online Community. Whether you want to talk about cancer treatment, side effects or simply connect with others, this group is here for you.

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