The symptoms of bowel cancer can be subtle and don't necessarily make you feel ill. However, it's worth trying simple treatments for a short time to see if they get better.
More than 90% of people with bowel cancer have one of the following combinations of symptoms:
Constipation , where you pass harder stools less often, is rarely caused by serious bowel conditions.
Although bowel cancersymptoms are very common, you should see your GP if they persist for more than four weeks. Most people with these symptoms don't have bowel cancer.
Try the bowel cancer symptom checker for advice on what treatments you can try to see if your symptoms get better, and when you should see your GP to discuss whether any tests are necessary.
See your doctor if your symptoms persist or keep coming back after stopping treatment, regardless of their severity or your age.
This is known as a bowel obstruction.
Symptoms of a bowel obstruction can include:
A bowel obstruction is a medical emergency. If you suspect your bowel is obstructed, you should see your GP quickly. If this isn't possible, go to the accident and emergency (A&E) department of your nearest hospital.
Bowel cancer is a general term for cancer that begins in the large bowel. Depending on where the cancer starts, bowel cancer is sometimes called colon or rectal cancer. Bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed
Read about symptoms of bowel cancer, including blood in the stools (faeces), a change in bowel habit, such as more frequent, looser stools, and tummy (abdominal) pain.
Read about the causes of bowel cancer. Cancer occurs when the cells in a certain area of your body divide and multiply too rapidly. This produces a lump of tissue known as a tumour.
Read about diagnosing bowel cancer. When you first see your GP, they'll ask about your symptoms and whether you have a family history of bowel cancer.
Read about treating bowel cancer. Treatment for bowel cancer depends on which part of your bowel is affected and how far the cancer has spread.
Read about how bowel cancer can affect your daily life in different ways, depending on what stage it's at and what treatment you're having.
Anne Messenger, from London, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2005. After keyhole surgery, she is now in the clear and focused on helping others.
Lester tells his story of being diagnosed with bowel cancer
Linda's account of being diagnosed with bowel cancer