General health

Bowel Cancer Awareness Month: Understanding Symptoms and the Importance of Early Detection

April marks Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, a crucial time to emphasise the significance of understanding this prevalent yet often preventable disease.

Bowel cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths. Yet, with early detection and treatment, survival rates dramatically increase.

Mr Pasha Nisar, a consultant general and colorectal surgeon specialising in bowel cancer treatment, holds regular clinics at our Surrey centre. He is dedicated to raising awareness of this disease and helping you protect your bowel health by investigating any worrying symptoms as early as possible.

Bowel Cancer: Recognise the Symptoms, Save Lives

While some symptoms may induce discomfort or embarrassment, they should never be disregarded, especially concerning bowel health.

Bowel cancer can impact anyone, necessitating extra vigilance if the following symptoms arise:

  • Bleeding from your bottom: A common yet significant symptom that warrants immediate attention.
  • Blood in your stool: Regardless of the quantity, report any presence to your doctor.
  • Changes in bowel habits: Persistent diarrhoea, constipation, or alterations in stool consistency merit investigation.
  • Unexplained weight loss: Shedding pounds unintentionally may indicate underlying health issues.
  • Persistent fatigue: Unexplained tiredness necessitates medical evaluation.
  • Pain or lump in your abdomen: Seek medical advice promptly upon experiencing discomfort.

Bowel cancer symptoms can be subtle and may not appear until later stages of the disease. The tumour’s location within the large bowel influences the specific symptoms experienced. For example, right-sided colon cancers can grow larger before causing any noticeable symptoms, often with anaemia being the first indicator. If you have unexplained iron deficiency anaemia, it is crucial to investigate the cause and rule out colorectal cancer.

If you experience any of the symptoms listed above, consult your doctor immediately. You may also seek a specialist opinion from a colorectal surgeon for further assessment. In the UK, colorectal surgeons manage the ‘two-week wait’ pathway, ensuring rapid investigation for patients with suspected bowel cancer.

Early Detection is Key

Bowel cancer is highly treatable in its early stages, with over 90% survival rates upon early diagnosis. Regrettably, this number declines significantly with delayed diagnosis. Hence, early detection through diagnostic screenings and prompt medical attention for symptoms that are concerning serve as paramount defences.

Should concerns arise, your GP or colorectal surgeon may initiate investigations, typically starting with a colonoscopy to discern underlying issues. Additionally, a FIT (Faecal Immunochemical Test) may be arranged to quantify microscopic blood in stool. However, even if the FIT result is negative, individuals exhibiting the above-mentioned red flag symptoms may still undergo a colonoscopy.

Diagnostic Testing

Diagnostic tests for colorectal health include a colonoscopy, which is the gold standard for investigating bowel symptoms. This procedure involves bowel preparation with a laxative the day before and adhering to strict dietary instructions from your doctor.

Sedation and pain relief are often administered during the procedure to ensure patient comfort. This examination is performed using either a CCD camera or a fibre optic camera, which is mounted on a flexible tube and passed through the anus.

The procedure typically takes 20 minutes and allows for direct visualisation of the colon’s interior, the removal of pre-malignant polyps, and biopsies for analysis. Following the procedure, biopsies of any detected polyps or lesions are analysed and the results are quickly relayed to you for peace of mind.

Alternatively, CT colonography may be conducted for those opposed to invasive tests, offering equivalent detection rates for polyps and cancer.

Supporting Good Bowel Health

At Prime Health, we prioritise your well-being and advocate for preventative measures over cure.

Our services to support bowel health include:

  • Personalised Health Checks: Comprehensive assessments to identify potential risk factors for bowel cancer and offer tailored prevention strategies.
  • Advanced Diagnostic Imaging: Cutting-edge imaging services for accurate diagnosis of bowel conditions.
  • Specialist Consultations: Access to leading specialists for expert advice and treatment planning, all under one roof.
  • Colonoscopy: Vital for detecting bowel cancer early when treatment prospects are favourable.

 How To Maintain Good Bowel Health

Maintaining or achieving a healthy bowel involves:

  • Eating meals regularly to boost metabolism, ideally three times a day.
  • A fibre-rich, balanced diet includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and pulses.
  • Hydrating adequately with 2-5 litres of water-based fluids daily.
  • Avoiding delaying emptying your bowels to minimise the risk of constipation.
  • Incorporating regular physical activity into your daily routines to promote bowel health.

 How To Increase Your Fibre Intake

  • Select high-fibre breakfast cereals, wholemeal bread, whole grains, and potatoes with skins to increase your daily fibre intake.
  • Snack on vegetable sticks, nuts, seeds, or wholegrain crackers.
  • Include plenty of vegetables, especially green leafy ones, in meals.
  • Add pulses like beans, lentils, or chickpeas to your meals.

Don’t Ignore Symptoms

Though symptoms may stem from conditions other than bowel cancer, prompt evaluation of any worrying symptoms is imperative. Do not allow fear or embarrassment to deter seeking medical attention—a timely assessment could be life-saving.

This Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, commit to proactive health management. Discuss your risk factors with your doctor and explore suitable screening options.

For further information or appointments with Mr Pasha Nisar, contact our team at 03300 252 100.


Prime Health is dedicated to providing comprehensive healthcare solutions, ensuring convenient access to top-notch diagnostics and consultations.

Our priority is your health, and we are committed to empowering you with the resources and expertise to safeguard your bowel health.

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