Bowel cancer symptoms: The warning sign in your body that may signal the deadly condition

Bowel cancer is slightly more prevalent in men and mostly affects people over the age of 50, but that doesn’t mean women and younger adults are immune from the deadly disease. Swelling in a certain part of the body could signal the condition.

The Cancer Treatment Center of America outlines the symptoms of bowel cancer that has broken off and infected the liver.

When a cancer spreads – medically termed metastasis – the size and position of the additional tumour presents itself in different ways.

For instance, swelling of the hands and feet may signal that bowel cancer has moved along to affect the liver.


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Swelling of body parts, known as edema, occurs when extra fluid gets trapped in your body’s tissues.

Other symptoms of bowel cancer that has travelled to the liver, as pointed out by The Cancer Treatment Center of America, include nausea, fatigue, increased abdominal girth and/or jaundice.

If the secondary cancer (in this instance, when cancer cells from the bowel spread to another body part) affect the lymph nodes of the abdomen, it may cause a swollen belly.

Lymph nodes

According to the American Cancer Society, there are hundreds of lymph nodes throughout the body.

Part of the body’s immune system, lymph nodes contain cells that can help fight infection.

When tackling an infection – such as cancer – the node may swell (sometimes called lymphadenopathy).

Swollen lymph nodes acts as clues that something inside your body isn’t right.

When cancers break away from a tumour, they can travel to other parts of the body either through the bloodstream or lymph nodes.

What causes bowel cancer?

According to The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust studies have shown that the frequency of bowel cancer is greater in countries that eat a high-fat diet.

The NHS Foundation Trust also points out that it’s suggested bowel cancer is linked to high alcohol intake, especially beer.

A history of severe ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease may also increase the risk of developing bowel cancer.

However, “very little” is known about the causes of bowel cancer, also called colorectal cancer.


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Bowel cancer UK lists common symptoms of bowel cancer, which include:

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

These symptoms could indicate other health problems, however, any symptoms should be discussed with a healthcare professional.

There is bowel cancer screening available to those registered with a GP.

A home testing kit will be sent out every two years from the age of 60 in England and Wales, and 50 in Scotland.

Bowel Cancer UK currently have lots of research projects running, thanks to donations from the public.

For example, lead researcher Professor Eva Morris at the University of Oxford is investigating why some bowel cancers go undetected during a colonoscopy.

She hopes to explore ways to help reduce the number of undetected cancers.

To read more about her research, visit Bowel Cancer UK.

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