There are more than 200 cancers that can affect the human body. Among the most common types in the UK is bowel cancer, which accounts for around 11 percent of all cancer diagnoses.

It also has a high fatality rate, causing around 16,000 deaths annually.

Therefore, being aware of any of the warning signs of bowel cancer, which is also known as colorectal cancer, could save your life.

While some symptoms are fairly common or well known, others are less so. One expert spoke with about some important, but “less common”, symptoms of bowel cancer to look out for.

Charles Evans, consultant colorectal surgeon at The Wellington Hospital, said: “Colorectal cancer can present with less commonly discussed symptoms.”

According to Charles, three of these are constant fatigue, unintended weight loss and appetite loss.

Constant fatigue

Feeling constantly exhausted no matter how much sleep you get could be a sign of something deadly.

“Fatigue can be a less common sign of colorectal cancer, especially if you feel tired persistently even after getting enough rest,” Charles said.

“Previous studies have shown that fatigue is especially often an unknown symptom in cancers such as lung and colon cancer.

“Bowel cancer can lead to a lack of iron in the body, resulting in anaemia, characterised by a low red blood cell count.

“If you have anaemia, you’re likely to feel very tired. It’s crucial not to dismiss ongoing tiredness and seek advice from your GP.”

Unintended weight loss and appetite loss

If you’re losing weight without a change of your diet or lifestyle and find your appetite decreasing, it is worth speaking to your doctor.

“These changes may be connected to disruptions in how your digestive system works, possibly due to the presence of colon cancer,” Charles said.

“One study found that accidental weight loss often happens with colon cancer.

“More than one in three people with bowel cancer have lost weight without trying.

“Despite this, individuals often fail to recognize this as an early indication of colon cancer.”

Other signs of bowel cancer include:

  • Changes in your poo, such as having softer poo, diarrhoea or constipation that is not usual for you
  • Needing to poo more or less often than usual for you
  • Blood in your poo, which may look red or black
  • Bleeding from your bottom
  • Often feeling like you need to poo, even if you’ve just been to the toilet
  • Tummy pain
  • A lump in your tummy
  • Bloating.

He added: “Lastly, to catch these less common signs, stay aware of how your body feels.

“Regularly check for any changes, let your GP know about persistent symptoms, and go to regular bowel screenings.

“This helps find colorectal cancer early, improving the chances of successful treatment.”

The NHS says you should call 999 if:

  • You’re bleeding non-stop from your bottom
  • There’s a lot of blood, for example, the toilet water turns red or you see large blood clots.
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