Bowel cancer can occur without any obvious warning signs in the early stages.  Not everyone will have symptoms, and the symptoms can vary. 

If you have any of the following common signs or symptoms, you should see your doctor who may suggest further testing:

  • Persistent change in bowel habits
    Keep an eye out for diarrhoea, constipation, change of appearance or narrowing of the stool that continues more than a few weeks.
  • Blood in the stool (bowel motion)
    Bleeding from your bottom, dark stools or blood in the stool should always be investigated.   Sometimes blood in the stool can be present, but invisible to the naked eye. 
  • Abdominal bloating or cramping abdominal pain
    If you notice abdominal bloating or cramping abdominal pain, or a lump or swelling in your abdomen, talk to your doctor who might suggest further testing.
  • Unexplained weight loss or loss of appetite
    Weakness, fatigue and breathlessness for no apparent reason

There are other bowel conditions that can cause similar symptoms to these, such as haemorrhoids, bowel infection or inflammatory bowel disease.   Some medications and foods can also change the colour of the stool (red or black) or change usual bowel habits.  

If you do experience any of these symptoms, regardless of your age, it is important to consult your GP so the cause can be found.