Colon Cancer Symptoms

Cancer of the colon and rectum can exhibit itself in several ways. The three main symptoms of bowel cancer are blood in the stools (faeces), a change in bowel habit (such as to more frequent, looser stools) and abdominal (tummy) pain.

Blood in the stools is usually caused by  haemorrhoids (piles) and a change in bowel habit or abdominal pain is often due to something you have eaten.

In the UK, an estimated 7 million people have blood in the stools each year and even more people have temporary changes in bowel habit and abdominal pain.

As the vast majority of people with bowel cancer are over 60 years old, these symptoms are more important as people get older. They are also more significant when they persist in spite of simple treatments.

Most patients with bowel cancer present with one of the following symptom combinations:

1. A persistent change in bowel habit, causing them to go to the toilet more often and pass looser stools, usually together with blood on or in their stools.

2. A persistent change in bowel habit without blood in their stools, but with abdominal pain.

3. Blood in the stools without other haemorrhoid symptoms such as soreness, discomfort, pain, itching or a lump hanging down outside the back passage.

4. Abdominal pain, discomfort or bloating always provoked by eating, sometimes resulting in a reduction in the amount of food eaten and weight loss.

5. A change in your bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool.

6. Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool.

7. Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain.

8. Weakness and fatigue.

9. Unintended weight loss.

10. Dark patches of blood in or on stool; or long, thin, “pencil stools”.

11. Abdominal discomfort or bloating.