According to Cancer Council Australia, bowel cancer is the second leading cancer type. In 2012, there were about 14,957 people diagnosed with bowel cancer alone. Figures also show that this type of bowel cancer affects both men and women, and is common among people aged 50 and above, making it an even bigger public health concern.
Maintaining a healthy bowel is one of the best ways you can keep the threat of bowel cancer at bay. As long as you’re familiar with the early symptoms, you can avoid any serious complications. Here are four common bowel health warning signs you should watch out for:
Blood and Changes in Stool
Blood mixed in stool could be a sign of bleeding. Stool may also become darker, sticky, or turn ribbon-like. In fact, a 2009 study published in BMC Medicine reports more than half of patients with bowel cancer experience rectal bleeding.
Persistent Abdominal Pain
While people encounter abdominal pain from time to time, consistent cramping, gas and bloating could be a sign of a more serious health condition. If you experience consistent abdominal discomfort, consider getting a sigmoidoscopy — a test used to check the sigmoid colon. Doctors often use disposable sigmoidoscopes in the procedure, which helps check for abnormal cells, ulcers, polyps and cancer.
Unexplained Vomiting and Nausea
Nausea and vomiting could also be a sign of a possible bowel problem, and it sometimes goes hand in hand with abdominal discomfort. For good measure, visit your doctor and take the test you need.
A Change in Bowel Movement Patterns
Some people will feel the constant need to visit the restroom because of bowel movement. If you always feel constipated, however, it could be a sign of something else, especially if it happens all the time. Changes in the pattern of your bowel movement can be a sign of a tumor blocking a passage, thereby preventing a successful bowel release.
If you experience at least one of these four symptoms, schedule a visit to your doctor and get tested. Identifying the early symptoms of bowel cancer can help prevent bowel cancer from developing, after all.