Bowel cancer is a general term for cancer that begins in the large bowel, and is sometimes called colon or colorectal cancer depending on where it starts.
It is one of the most common cancers diagnosed in the UK, with someone diagnosed every 15 minutes.
According to the NHS, most people who develop it are over the age of 60 years.
Factors that can increase your risk include a diet high in red meat, being overweight, lack of exercise, alcohol, smoking and having a family history of the condition.
While altered bowel movements and stomach pain could be a sign of irritable bowel syndrome or dietary changes, it may be something more serious, like bowel cancer.
Here are the bowel cancer symptoms you could be suffering.
One of the most common bowel cancer symptoms is pain in the abdominal area.
According to the NHS, it can also come with bloating, and can feel like cramping and gas.
Abdominal and bloating are almost always brought on by eating.
This can often lead to other signs of the cancer such as a reduction in amount of food eaten and weight loss.
The cancer can cause weakness and fatigue.
But this exhaustion will feel like more than just normal tiredness.
Rectal bleeding – where you bleed from the rectum – can also be a sign, according to the American Cancer Society.
You may notice it when you wipe your bottom with tissue or it may appear in your stools, making them look dark and tarry.
Other causes of blood in the stools is haemorrhoids, but if there are no other piles symptoms, it could be bowel cancer.
While people’s bowel habits can change for a number of reasons, if they last for more than a few days it could be a sign of cancer.
According to the American Society, changes that may point to bowel cancer include diarrhoea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool.
This may be accompanied by tummy pain, say the NHS.
Feeling that bowel isn’t empty
According to the American Cancer Society, this is defined as “a feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by having one”.
It could also be described as the sensation of feeling like the bowel is never completely empty.
Another sign of bowel cancer is weight loss that’s unexplained and unintended weight loss.
According to the NHS, this weight loss may be accompanied by persistent abdominal pain.