7 Early Signs of Bowel Cancer You Shouldn't Ignore

While it's true that the symptoms of bowel cancer are common to other less serious issues, if you experience two or more of the symptoms, you should see a specialist.
7 Early Signs of Bowel Cancer You Shouldn't Ignore

Last update: 17 September, 2020

Bowel cancer is that which originates from colon or rectal cancer and, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), affects 10-15% of the world’s population.

It develops when colon cells grow uncontrollably and cause lumps in the lining of the large intestine. As with other types of cancers, it can attack the body quickly and also lead to many difficulties in the body.

Those with polyps in the colon, family history, or ulcerative colitis may be at high risk of developing this form of cancer. Early detection and proper medical treatment can increase the life expectancy of those who suffer from this illness.

Because of this, it’s very important to look out for the early symptoms of bowel cancer and, of course, go to a specialist in case of any suspicion.

Sings of bowel cancer

1. Changes in bowel habits

Symptoms of bowel cancer.

Both constipation and diarrhea can be related with abnormalities in the colon. Having incomplete bowel movements, intestinal incontinence, or producing narrow feces are all good reasons to see a doctor.

Although these symptoms almost always tend to arise because of bad habits or common conditions, it’s necessary to consider them as a possible risk factor for this type of cancer.

2. Blood in your stool

According to the Cleveland Clinic, the presence of blood in your stool is one of the most important signs of bowel cancer. Although several digestive disorders can cause this symptom, its appearance could indicate the presence of tumors in the intestine.

In addition, it’s common among those who are at risk of diseases such as:

  • Gastritis
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Chronic constipation

3. Anemia

Anemia is a disease that’s caused by a decrease in red blood cells, which are responsible for transporting oxygen to all the cells in the body. Those who suffer from it often go through severe episodes of fatigue and weakness. They experience this even when they’ve had a good night’s sleep and eat healthily.

Blood samples being analyzed for anemia

Although this can be caused by genetic or nutritional factors or excessive blood loss, bowel cancer should not be ruled out as one of its causes.

4. Abdominal pain

It’s very difficult to consider abdominal pain as a sign of cancer since indigestion or common stomach problems cause it in most cases. However, when it occurs recurrently and inexplicably, it’s important that a specialist thoroughly analyzes the problem.

The fact that this pain appears suddenly may indicate that something is altering the environment in the gut. It may also point to an alteration in the bacterial flora or be a sign that cells in this area are growing excessively.

5. Vomiting

Vomiting caused by indigestion or digestive difficulty is normal and usually goes away in a short time. However, when it appears as a recurring or involuntary symptom or for no apparent reason, then it should be a cause for concern.

Although this type of vomiting may be caused by many different health problems, bowel cancer usually provokes it. This is because the bowel cells begin to behave abnormally. This, in turn, usually leads to dehydration, fatigue, and excess acidity.

6. Sudden weight loss

Weight loss can occur within a healthy diet plan and regular physical exercise. However, in some cases, it occurs suddenly and without making any effort. This is almost always a sign of some illness.

If you suffer from bowel cancer then you may experience weight loss due to decreased appetite and the nutritional deficiencies it leads to.

Woman on a scale

7. Excess Gas

Excess gas in the intestine is caused by the alterations that the bacterial flora undergoes due to the development of bowel cancer. It is, of course, a symptom that can usually be associated with other changes in the body. Eating certain foods, common diseases and unhealthy habits can also cause this symptom

What to do if you present symptoms of bowel cancer

Knowing how to identify these symptoms and analyzing how recurrent they are is vital in order to achieve a timely detection of the disease.

Having two or more of these symptoms at the same time is reason enough to request the relevant medical tests.

It might interest you...
Skin Cancer Warning Signs and What to Do About Them
Step To Health
Read it in Step To Health
Skin Cancer Warning Signs and What to Do About Them

While prevention is the key to preventing skin cancer, there are some skin cancer warning signs that can help you get an early diagnosis. Read on!

  • Sundbøll, J., Thygesen, S. K., Veres, K., Liao, D., Zhao, J., Gregersen, H., & Sørensen, H. T. (2019). Risk of cancer in patients with constipation. Clinical epidemiology, 11, 299–310. https://doi.org/10.2147/CLEP.S205957
  • Colorectal (colon) cancer. Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/14501-colorectal-colon-cancer
  • Edna TH, Karlsen V, Jullumstrø E, Lydersen S. Prevalence of anaemia at diagnosis of colorectal cancer: Assessment of associated risk factors. Hepatogastroenterology. 2012;
  • Astin, M., Griffin, T., Neal, R. D., Rose, P., & Hamilton, W. (2011). The diagnostic value of symptoms for colorectal cancer in primary care: a systematic review. The British journal of general practice : the journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners, 61(586), e231–e243. https://doi.org/10.3399/bjgp11X572427
  • Bapuji SB, Sawatzky JA V. Understanding weight loss in patients with colorectal cancer: A human response to illness. Oncol Nurs Forum. 2010;
  • Han, S., Gao, J., Zhou, Q., Liu, S., Wen, C., & Yang, X. (2018). Role of intestinal flora in colorectal cancer from the metabolite perspective: a systematic review. Cancer management and research, 10, 199–206. https://doi.org/10.2147/CMAR.S153482