HEALTH: Bowel Cancer Symptoms

The symptoms of bowel cancer can be subtle and don’t necessarily make you feel ill. More than 90% of people with bowel cancer have one of the following combinations of symptoms:

  • a persistent change in bowel habit – going more often, with looser stools and sometimes tummy (abdominal) pain
  • blood in the stools without other piles (haemorrhoids) symptoms – this makes it unlikely the cause is haemorrhoids
  • abdominal pain, discomfort or bloating always brought on by eating – sometimes resulting in a reduction in the amount of food eaten and weight loss

When to seek medical advice

Although bowel cancer symptoms are very common, you should see your GP if they persist for more than four weeks. Most people with these symptoms don’t have bowel cancer.

Try the NHS Choices’ bowel cancer symptom checker for advice on what treatments you can try to see if your symptoms get better, and when you should see your GP to discuss whether any tests are necessary.

See your doctor if your symptoms persist or keep coming back after stopping treatment, regardless of their severity or your age.

Read more about diagnosing bowel cancer on the NHS Choices website.