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Deborah James discusses 'scary' bowel cancer symptoms

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Bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancers to be diagnosed in the UK. But most people have their bowel cancer diagnosed much later, because symptoms don’t usually appear in its early stages. However, you might notice one or two changes that could be an early warning sign to see a doctor.

Bowel cancer is an all-encompassing term that’s used to define any cancer that’s started in the large bowel.

You might find that some people refer to bowel cancer as either colon or rectal cancer.

Either way, it’s one of the most common types of cancer to be diagnosed, with the risk of bowel cancer increasing as you get older.

One of the earliest warning signs of bowel cancer is noticing a change to the appearance of your stools.

Some patients might notice that they’re passing stools with an unusual amount of mucus.

While it’s completely normal to have some mucus in your stools, you should speak to a doctor if there’s a noticeable amount.

Mucus tends to be see-through, white or yellow, which makes it difficult to notice most of the time.

However, a large amount of visible mucus in your stool isn’t normal – and might be caused by something serious.

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Charity Guts UK said: “The development of a bowel cancer from a polyp may take between five and 10 years, and early on there may be no symptoms at all.

“The most common symptoms are bleeding from the bowel, januvia weight loss a change in bowel habit, such as unusual episodes of diarrhoea or constipation and an increase in the amount of mucus in the stool.

“A bowel cancer can enlarge causing partial or complete blockage of the bowel leading to abdominal pain, constipation and bloating.

“Sometimes tiny amounts of bleeding may go unnoticed but result in the development of anaemia, which may cause tiredness and a decreased ability to work and exercise. Unexplained weight loss is also a symptom.”

But just because you start to notice mucus in your stools, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have bowel cancer.

It could be caused by a gastrointestinal problem, like irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis.

An intestinal infection, parasitic infection, or even cystic fibrosis could all cause excessive mucus in stools.

Speak to a doctor if you’re worried about the amount of mucus in your stools.

Almost 90 percent of all bowel cancer patients are at least 60 years old in the UK.

You could lower your chances of developing the condition by cutting back on the amount of red or processed meats in your diet, and by eating more fibre.

It’s also important to make sure you eat a healthy, balanced diet, and do plenty of exercise.

Everyone should aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week.

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