Hematochezia one of the key signs of bowel cancer, warns GP

Merlin Griffiths says he is 'doing well' after Bowel cancer diagnosis

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Doctor Griffiths started off by saying that symptoms of bowel cancer “can be subtle and often confused with symptoms of other, less serious illnesses”.

She added: “It is important to note that the majority of people with these symptoms do not have bowel cancer, but symptoms should not be ignored just in case it is.

“You should highlight concerns and symptoms which are present for longer than three weeks to your doctor so they can investigate the cause. Delaying investigation could result in bowel cancer being diagnosed at a later stage.”

The main symptoms of the disease, according to Doctor Griffiths, are:
• A persistent and unexplained change in bowel habit such as having more frequent bowel movements, constipation, or having looser stools
• Abdominal pain, discomfort or bloating
• A lump in your abdomen or your back passage
• Unexplained weight loss
• Extreme tiredness for no reason.

Another symptom listed by Doctor Griffths is blood in your stools, also known as rectal bleeding, or hematochezia.

However, sometimes with bowel cancer, there are no symptoms, but this doesn’t prevent the cancer from being detectable.

The NHS now provides at-home poo tests which allow people to provide a sample of their faeces for testing so the disease can be treated early before symptoms develop.

In common with all cancers, the sooner the disease is diagnosed, the more efficacious treatment will be.

Doctor Griffiths said: “Everyone knows a friend or relative who has suffered from or unfortunately, died of bowel cancer.

“Also known as colorectal cancer, bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK but the second biggest killer. More than 16,000 people die from bowel cancer in the UK every year.

“However, the survival rate drops significantly as the disease develops. The optimal test for bowel cancer is a colonoscopy, but it is an invasive test which checks the lining of the bowel for cancer.

“Due to the invasive nature of this test, it usually happens following a positive screening result or if a person has multiple symptoms so as not to cause unnecessary discomfort if symptoms are related to another health issue.”

On the diagnosis for bowel cancer, the NHS says the first stage is for a GP to “carry out a simple examination of your bottom, known as a digital rectal examination (DRE), and examine your tummy (abdomen)”.

The health body adds: “If your symptoms suggest you may have bowel cancer or the diagnosis is uncertain, you’ll be referred to your local hospital for a simple examination called a flexible sigmoidoscopy.

“A flexible sigmoidoscopy is an examination of your back passage and some of your large bowel using a device called a sigmoidoscope. A sigmoidoscope is a long, thin, flexible tube attached to a very small camera and light. It’s inserted

into your bottom and up into your bowel. The camera relays images to a monitor and can also be used to take biopsies, where a small tissue sample is removed for further analysis.”

If bowel cancer is diagnosed, treatment will vary depending on the stage of the cancer. There are normally four stages of bowel cancer.

While being one of the most common forms of cancer, bowel cancer is also one of the most preventable.

Cancer Research UK data suggests over 50 percent of cases can be prevented.

According to its data, around 28 percent of bowel cancer cases are caused by eating too little fibre while 13 percent are caused by eating too much processed meat.

This demonstrates the importance of a balanced diet in maintaining overall health and reducing the risk of serious ailments and conditions.

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