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Deborah James discusses 'scary' bowel cancer symptoms

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Bowel cancer describes cancerous cells that divide and multiply in the large bowel (colon) and the back passage (rectum). Due to its location, the cancer often plays havoc to your constitution, which typically results in a change to your bowel habits. According to health body Tri-City Medical Center, a “sudden shift” in bowel habits can signal you have bowel cancer.

These shifts may include:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Narrowing of the stool.

These shifts can be an indication of bowel cancer “because polyps and tumours can obstruct the colon”, explains Tri-City Medical Center.

Polyps are abnormal tissue growths that most often look like small, flat bumps or tiny mushroom-like stalks.

Be sure not to overlook or ignore a change in bowel habits, especially if these changes persist for more than a few days.

According to the NHS, you should see a GP if you have any of the symptoms of bowel cancer for three weeks or more.

“When you first see a GP, oxycodone use in morphine allergy they’ll ask about your symptoms and whether you have a family history of bowel cancer,” explains the health body.

It adds: “They’ll usually carry out a simple examination of your bottom, known as a digital rectal examination (DRE), and examine your tummy (abdomen).”

This is a useful way of checking whether there are any lumps in your tummy or bottom (rectum).

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Am I at risk?

The exact cause of bowel cancer is unknown.

However, research has shown several factors may make you more likely to develop it.

Your risk of developing bowel (colon and rectal) cancer depends on many things including age, genetics and lifestyle factors.

Anything that can increase your risk of cancer is called a risk factor. Those that lower the risk are called protective factors.

Having one or more risk factors doesn’t mean that you will definitely get bowel cancer.

It is very difficult to research the link between diet and cancer but research has found certain foods can definitely affect the risk of bowel cancer.

Many studies have shown that eating lots of red and processed meat increases the risk of bowel cancer.

Processed meat is any meat that has been treated to preserve it and/or add flavour – for example, bacon, salami, sausages, canned meat, or chicken nuggets.

The government recommends that people eating more than 90g of red and processed meat a day should reduce it to 70g or less.

A linked risk factor is obesity.

According to Cancer Research UK, it is estimated that 11 out of 100 bowel cancers (11 percent) in the UK are linked to being overweight or obese.

Obesity means being very overweight with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher.

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