• Many are not aware of and are ignoring potential signs of bowel cancer
  • Extreme tiredness, abdominal pain and blood in poo can all be symptoms
  • 1 in 4 are not aware that blood in poo can be a symptom and just a third recognised abdominal pain as a sign
  • Love Your Gut together with Bowel Cancer UK and Beating Bowel Cancer, shares information on symptoms and risk factors – urging with concerns to visit their GP


Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK and the second biggest cancer killer, but research by Love Your Gut has highlighted that many are not familiar with the symptoms and are frequently failing to seek medical help. To help raise awareness of the symptoms and risk factors Love Your Gut – in association with a number of digestive health charities and groups (including Bowel & Cancer Research, the Bowel Disease Research Foundation, Guts UK (formerly Core), The Primary Care Society for Gastroenterology, St Mark’s Hospital Foundation and The IBS Network) – has teamed up with Bowel Cancer UK and Beating Bowel Cancer.

In a survey, commissioned by Love Your Gut*, over 60% of people said they had suffered from symptoms that could be indicative of bowel cancer such as regular abdominal pain (18%) or bleeding when passing poo (9%). Yet despite experiencing the symptoms, most did not associate them with the possibility of bowel cancer. Only half were aware that blood in poo could be a potential symptom and just a third were aware that abdominal pain could be too. Even after suffering the symptoms 1 in 5 ignored them, 25% visited Google and only 53% visited their GP.

How does bowel cancer develop?

Most bowel cancers develop from pre-cancerous growths called polyps. However not all polyps will develop into cancer. Generally people won’t know they have them, as typically they they cause no symptoms. Polyps are usually found during an examination of the inside of the bowel or as part of a bowel cancer screening programme (a colonoscopy) and if your doctor finds any, he or she can remove them to lower the risk of bowel cancer developing.

Risk factors

  • Aged 50 or over – the risk of bowel cancer increases with age, but can affect people of any age
  • A strong family history of bowel cancer
  • A history of non-cancerous growths (polyps) in your bowel
  • Longstanding inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • An unhealthy lifestyle – your diet, drinking excessive alcohol, smoking and not being physically active can all increase your risk

What are the symptoms?

  • Bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo
  • A persistent and unexplained change in bowel habit
  • Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
  • A pain or lump in your abdomen / tummy
  • Unexplained weight loss

Most people with these symptoms don’t have bowel cancer. Other health problems can cause similar symptoms. But if you have one or more of these, or if things just don’t feel right, visit your GP.

 What should I do if I’m experiencing symptoms?

Bowel cancer is treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early so it is important to visit the GP if experiencing any of these symptoms or if things simply don’t feel right.

*A survey of 2,000 adults from the UK and Republic of Ireland conducted online on behalf of the Love Your Gut campaign by Mortar between 8 -11August 2017.

For more information visit www.loveyourgut.com .