Bowel cancer: How do you check your poo?

Deborah James, Dame, died of bowel cancer in her 40s.

Bowel cancer: How do you check your poo?

Deborah James, Dame, died of bowel cancer in her 40s. She encouraged everyone to check their poo as part a campaign to raise awareness about the disease.

We answer questions about one of the most prevalent types of cancer in the UK.

Three things are important to keep an eye on:

Other symptoms may also be present, including:

These symptoms don't necessarily indicate bowel cancer. However, it is important to consult a doctor if they persist for more than three weeks.

This means that they can be diagnosed quickly. It is easier to treat cancers that are detected earlier.

Bowel cancer can sometimes block waste from passing through the bowel, which can lead to a blockage. This can cause severe stomach pain, constipation, and even sickness. In these cases, you will need to immediately see your GP.

More information about signs and symptoms can be found here.

Take a look at what you see when you use the toilet, and don't be ashamed to share your thoughts.

It is important to look out for blood in the poo and bleeding from your bottom.

It could be due to bowel cancer, or swollen blood vessels in the back.

Your bowels or stomach could be responsible for the dark reddish or black blood you see in your poo. This can also be alarming.

A change in your bowel habits, such as looser pooping or more frequent pooing, could also be an indicator.

You might also feel that you aren't emptying your bowels correctly or not getting enough time to go.

Bowel Cancer UK suggests keeping a log of your symptoms so that you don't forget anything when you go to your GP.

Doctors are used seeing many people with bowel problems. Tell them about any bleeding or changes to help determine the cause.

Although no one knows exactly why it occurs, there are certain things that can increase its likelihood of happening:

Bowel cancer is not usually hereditary. However, you should inform your GP if any of your close relatives have been diagnosed with the disease before 50.

Lynch syndrome is a genetic condition that increases the risk of developing bowel carcinoma. However, doctors can help to prevent this from happening.

Scientists believe that people who live a healthier lifestyle could prevent more than half of all bowel cancers.

This means that you should be doing more exercise and eating less fat. You also need to drink six to eight glasses of water per day.

It also means that you should visit your GP if you have any concerns and take up the offer to get cancer screenings as soon as possible.

The NHS offers screening that aims to detect early stages of bowel cancer. You will receive a home test kit that looks for hidden blood in your poo.

However, it is not for everyone. It's only available to the most eligible age groups.

All over the UK, screening takes place.

Screening can be inaccurate and lead to harm or unnecessary treatment if there are many healthy individuals being tested.

If you are younger and experiencing symptoms, it is important to be aware of them and consult your GP if necessary. Don't purchase a self-test kit as the results could be confusing.

After you have returned your home testing kit, you will either get the all-clear from your doctor or be contacted by your local hospital to conduct further tests.

One option is a colonoscopy which involves a camera in a long tube that looks inside the entire bowel. Another option is a flexible sigmoidoscopy which only examines a portion of it.

Nearly 90% of those diagnosed with bowel cancer in its early stages will live for at least five years, compared to 44% who are diagnosed at its latest stage.

In the UK, survival rates have increased more than twice in the past 40 years. More than half of patients are now able to survive for 10 or more years, compared to one in five in 1970.

As with many cancers, the best survival rates are for those aged 15-40 years. This is because older people are more likely to get cancer.

However, the UK's survival rate is not as high as in other parts of Europe.

Bowel cancer can be treated, especially when detected early.

The personalized nature of treatment is changing. Genetic testing has made it possible to tailor care to each person's individual needs.

Although this approach is still in its infancy, it promises extra years of life for patients with cancer.

No matter what stage of cancer you are at, we will talk to you about the available treatments.

Depending on the type of cancer, this could be surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or a combination of both.

Bowel Cancer UK offers advice on what questions to ask when you visit a specialist.

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