Bowel cancer: Two substances found in your poo are major indicators of the deadly disease

Deborah James discusses 'scary' bowel cancer symptoms

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Bowel cancer is a general term for cancerous cells that multiply uncontrollably in the large bowel (colon and rectum). If it’s detected early enough, treatment can cure bowel cancer and stop it coming back. Spotting any of these two substances in your poo could be a major indicator of your bowel cancer risk.

An important sign that definitely warrants a visit to your doctor is finding blood or mucus in your stool, said the British Council.

The site added: “Cancers bleed, and the blood can be found in any form in your poo.

“The nature of the bleeding can also give you some idea of where the cancer may be located.

“If the blood is coating the poo, there is a higher chance that the cancer is located near the end of the gut.

“If the blood is mixed into the poo, the source of bleeding will likely be higher up in the gut, since the blood has had more time with the poo, and the movements of the bowel will mix the two together.”

Mucus in poo

The Mayo Clinic describes mucus in poo as a “jelly-like substance”.

It continued: “A small amount of mucus in stool is usually nothing to worry about.

“Stool normally contains a small amount of mucus — a jelly-like substance that your intestines make to keep the lining of your colon moist and lubricated.

“But you should talk to your doctor if you notice an increased amount of mucus in stool — particularly if it begins happening regularly or if it’s accompanied by bleeding or a change in bowel habits.”

Blood in poo

According to Bowel Cancer Australia, blood in your poo or rectal bleeding are tell-tale signs of bowel cancer.

“Bright red or very dark blood should never be ignored,” warns the charity.

It’s important to know that blood in the poo when associated with pain or soreness is more often caused by piles (haemorrhoids).

Blood from higher up in the bowel doesn’t look bright red but goes dark red or even black.

This can make your bowel motions look like tar, according to Cancer Research, and could be a sign of cancer higher up in the bowel.

Bowel cancer can be present for several years before symptoms develop.

Other symptoms of bowel cancer to spot according to Cancer Research UK include:

  • Bleeding from the back passage (rectum) or blood in your poo
  • A change in your normal bowel habit, such as looser poo, pooing more often or constipation
  • A lump that your doctor can feel in your back passage or tummy (abdomen), more commonly on the right side
  • A feeling of needing to strain in your back passage (as if you need to poo), even after opening your bowels
  • Losing weight
  • Pain in your abdomen or back passage
  • Tiredness and breathlessness caused by a lower-than-normal level of red blood cells (anaemia).

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