Bowel cancer symptoms tend to affect a person’s bowel habits, with blood in poo being one of the most notable signs. But the shape of your stools could also help detect if you’re at risk of the disease.
Narrow stools that occur infrequently probably are harmless.
However, in some cases, narrow stools especially if pencil thin may be a sign of narrowing or obstruction of the colon due to bowel cancer.
Check with your doctor if you notice any changes in your bowel habits such as narrower than normal stools that last longer than one to two weeks, said the Mayo Clinic.
The health site added: “Consult your doctor immediately if your bowel changes are accompanied by rectal bleeding or severe abdominal pain.”
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Abdominal pain, discomfort or bloating always brought on by eating is another symptom of bowel cancer.
This can sometimes result in a reduction in the amount of food eaten and weight loss.
More than 90 percent of people with bowel cancer experience a persistent change in bowel habit, blood in poo and abdominal pain.
The NHS does note constipation, where a person passes harder stools less often, is rarely caused by serious bowel conditions.
According to Mayo Clinic, treatment for bowel cancer usually involves surgery to remove the cancer.
Other treatments, such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy, might also be recommended.
Your risk of developing bowel (colon and rectal) cancer depends on many things including age, genetics and lifestyle factors.
Many studies have shown that eating lots of red and processed meat increases the risk of bowel cancer.
According to Cancer Research UK, it is estimated that around 13 out of 100 bowel cancer cases in the UK are linked to eating these meats.