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Bowel cancer: Two biggest symptoms warning of cancerous polyps and your risk

Deborah James discusses 'scary' bowel cancer symptoms

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Bowel cancer or colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers to be diagnosed in the UK. Doctors believe that most bowel cancers develop from adenoma polyps. According to a study, experiencing either of these two symptoms could be a major indicator of your risk.

In a study published in BMC, bowel cancer symptoms not indicating colorectal cancer and polyps was further analysed.

The aim of the study was to systematically review the evidence about the association between bowel symptoms and colorectal cancer or polyps.

Colorectal cancer was associated with rectal bleeding and weight loss, noted the study.

It added: “Neither of these symptoms was associated with the presence of polyps.

“There was no significant association of colorectal cancer or polyps with change in bowel habit, constipation, diarrhoea or abdominal pain.

“Neither the clinical setting (primary or specialist care) nor study type was associated with accuracy.

“Most studies had methodological flaws. There was no consistency in the way symptoms were elicited or interpreted in the studies.

“Current evidence suggests that the common practice of performing colonoscopies to identify cancers in people with bowel symptoms is warranted only for rectal bleeding and the general symptom of weight loss.”

Bowel cancer can enlarge causing partial or complete blockage of the bowel.

This can lead 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.

Some bowel cancer patients find that they develop unexplained weight loss, according to charity Bowel Cancer UK.

You may feel nauseous whenever you start eating, or you may just never feel hungry, it said.

Other symptoms include stomach pain, and persistent fatigue.

The tiredness may be caused by an iron deficiency, which has been linked with bowel cancer.

For those leading an unhealthy lifestyle, you’re more at risk of developing the disease.

Another factor is a history of non-cancerous growths, called polyps, in your bowel.

Most bowel cancers develop from polyps, but bear in mind that not all polyps develop into cancer.

One other risk factor you can’t control is your age. Those over 50 are at higher risk.
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