are the Key Symptoms that you and your
doctor should to look out for … plus how you should be investigated if you have
1. Having blood with your bowel motions and going more frequently to the loo
to pass softer, looser poo - if this persists for more than 6 weeks it should be
investigated at any age but especially over 40 by a short 5-minute
examination (known as “flexi sig”)
2. Persistent rectal bleeding:
In people over 50 – it should be
investigated by 'flexi sig'
In people below 50 – it should be
investigated if this happens for no reasons- no pile symptoms, no constipation
and persists for 6 weeks
3. Going more frequently to pass
softer/looser poo for more than 6 weeks without bleeding – should be investigated
by 'flexi sig' in people over 50
4. Iron deficiency anaemia found in a blood
test done by your doctor
All men - and women after the menopause - should be investigated by colonoscopy if there is no obvious cause for the iron deficiency anaemia.
Anyone with mild anaemia and important bowel symptoms should also be investigated , usually by a short 3-minute colonoscopy (called a flexible sigmoidoscopy). If the flexi-sig is normal they should then be offered colonoscopy.
Blood tests are cheap - don't wait for signs of anaemia as it only has signs and symptoms if it is very advanced...
5. Lump in tummy or bottom felt by doctor –
ask your GP to check as you may not be able to feel it!
Important: Most people
with bowel cancer are NOT losing weight nor have extreme tiredness.
symptoms and combinations of symptoms are much more important to catch bowel
may have other signs and symptoms – mucus, pain, discomfort, changes in the
shape of your poo – these are common in other conditions and unless you have at
least one of the above key symptoms and signs it is highly unlikely you have
any serious condition of your bowel.
Important: Bowel cancer
can be present for up to 2 years before it manifests with symptoms and or
anaemia or a lump in your tummy or back passage. It is now possible to catch it
at an early stage in the UK Governments free NHS bowel cancer screening
programme – England, Wales & Ireland
from age 60, Scotland
from age 50 – this finds cancers at an earlier, curable stage and saves lives.
This will shortly include a new screening programme for England – a short
colonoscopy called flexi-sig – this will be introduced over the next 4 years
and could save even more lives – 3,000 a year.