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

The symptoms of bowel cancer may include:

  • blood in, or on, your poo (stool) 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 3 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)
  • an itchy bottom, although this is rare.

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

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

If you have symptoms that do not improve within a few weeks, or if your symptoms get worse, it is important that you are referred to a specialist. They can do tests to find out what the problem is.

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