What were your symptoms prior to diagnosis of bowel cancer?

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Having read a post earlier, I thought it might be an interesting idea to collect & amass everyone's symptoms of bowel cancer, prior to their diagnosis. It seems to me, (when reading here,) that symptoms vary such a lot, particularly in regard to the specific site in the bowel. I am not sure whether this post has any purpose, but, it might be interesting for someone to collect all the data of personal experiences; yet also, reactions of GPs - when you first presented with symptoms. Yet also, it might help those that might be worrying about the possibility of whether they have bowel cancer.

& so, I'll start with mine:

My symptoms started in summer of 2018. At first, they were very vague - just a dull ache in a certain place in my lower left abdomen. At this stage, it was bothersome, but not enough for me to visit my GP. Soon after, I found I needed to dash to the loo with diarrhoea, then I had occasional bad stomach cramps & nausea. I then found I needed to lie down after eating lunch - & had extremely loud gurgling noises in my stomach - & I would massage my stomach, thinking it was just bad wind - & my thoughts were that I had IBS. A good friend asked me if I was losing weight - which I hadn't considered; but yes, I was having to wear a belt to keep up my jeans. Then, checking my weight, it was drastically reducing. The pain in my left side became ever more nagging, & after three visits to the GP, he ordered a Colonoscopy - which diagnosed a 5cm tumour in my descending bowel - which resulted in a left hemicolectomy in May 2019.

I knew that there was something wrong, but I had convinced myself that I had IBS. I never thought about bowel cancer at that time - probably because it was too frightening to consider.

On reflection, I am pleased with how my GP reacted to my symptoms, but that could be because of my age.


  • I can relate to you turning a blind eye to the possibility of cancer.

    I had a small amount of blood in my poo during Covid, Summer of 2020 and I went to the doc's: she sent me away after checking my rectum, with the advice to apply cream as it was probably piles.

    Fast forward to December 2021: over time, the amount of blood had increased and whilst on holiday, I had bloody diarrhoea. I went and saw a different doctor and insisted on being referred for tests so I was fast tracked. Had a sigmoidoscopy end of December which revealed a large peduncular polyp. A biopsy indicated medium grade cancer cells within it. Had  3 colonoscopies, a CT scan and blood tests: I had a High Anterior Resection in March to take away 25 cms of colon where the cancerous polyp had grown. The op was straightforward and I recovered well.

  • I was diagnosed in 2021 after a routine bowel screening test.  At the time, I didn't think that I'd had any symptoms whatsoever.  I felt perfectly OK, no pain or constipation, normal stools, no weight loss and I definitely hadn't spotted any blood.  Now however, looking back over the preceding 12 months I realised that I had been eating far less red meat as it seemed harder to digest than fish or chicken. I'd never been a big meat eater anyhow so didn't really think much of it at that point.  I'm annoyed with myself though as my Dad had bowel cancer 25 years ago and my Grandfather died from it 57 years ago so I should've been much more aware. Thought that as long as I ate reasonably healthily and had my 5 a day I'd be OK. Upshot was a LAR and ileostomy.  Thank goodness for bowel screening and talented surgeons and medical staff!

  • Hi Marianne 26, I  visited my Dr three or four times over the course of 18 months to be told I probably had piles. I repeatedly told him I never needed to strain to go to the toilet. My symptoms were blood in my poo at times and increasingly needed to Rush to the loo. I was51. Eventually thank God I saw a Locum who examined me (Dr did not) and referred me for a sigmoidoscopy. This revealed a walnut size malignant tumour. Bloods taken showed no spread but I was told as it was so low down I'd have a stoma colostomy bag for life and a  Barbie  bum . I had three months of radiotherapy and three months of tablet form Chemo. I then had an op where they took away my anus and rectum. I had complications resulting in two further ops. I was very bitter at the time - if my ( Senior partner) Dr had only sent me earlier for a sigmoidoscopy I doubt I'd have had all the complications I ended up with. 

    I never had stomach pains or any other signs. There was no cancer history in my family, I didn't smoke or drink and wasn't overweight. The only thing on the tick box form was that I suffered with anxiety. I acquired  chronic kidney disease. My immune system was compromised and I got shingles with complications and encephalitis which was horrific. If anyone Suspects something is wrong get a second opinion and insist on a sigmoidoscopy. , 

    "don't think about tomorrow"

  • Now I know I had rectal cancer.
    I really should have done something about it on my 50th birthday when I bled and was treated for piles. 
    Food became difficult to process and having a bowel movement was little and often with continual pressure in my back passage. 
    That’s the warning , eating easy digesting food that takes forever to pass with pressure in the back passage 
    At 66 a 10 cm tumour removed by LAR with a reversible Ileostomy 
    I was close to blocking. I didn’t have constipation or piles but a huge growth. 
    I regret not pushing this with my doctor 

    Thank goodness for my FIT test which put me on the path of getting that cancer in the bin 


  • My Mum had digestive issues for years and was diagnosed with IBS. I assume that was correct at the time but meant she missed symptoms by putting them down to IBS. All her FIT tests were negative too and one endoscopy she had (,as part of the IBS diagnosis) was clear.

    I particularly remember her eating breakfast at a B and B 5 years ago and after a post meal walk (in the cold) she was sick and collapsed. I wonder now if it was related.

    She did get medical help but it just didn't show up until it was too late in January 22 and caused a blockage.

  • Hello,

    I was getting blood on my poo, not very noticeable but more obvious when wiping. That would of been January 2022. I was also getting diarrhoea and when finished in the toilet I never felt 'empty'. This went on for a few months then with persistence from my wife I pushed to get a Dr's appointment and got one who happened to be a Locum.

    He physically checked my back passage and said all was good with the prostate. He decided on blood test and a poo sample. A couple of weeks later he phoned me and said ' it's not good news ' so I was red flagged for endoscopy and colonoscopy. That took over 8 weeks (with the persistence of the Dr's receptionist) and finally I got a date for the Colonoscopy in September. That revealed a rectal tumor that I myself could see on the monitor. They removed a polyp that day too. CT, MRI and Ultrasound scans followed that showed I had a 4cm rectal cancer.

    I started treatment on 7th December which is radiotherapy in hospital each morning with oral chemotherapy (1800mg twice daily) and today I had my 16th session with another 9 to go.....25 in all.

    The plan then is more scans to see how things are in there then surgery to remove whatever is left.


  • Thanks so much for all your replies on my post so far - which all seem to suggest that bowel cancer presents itself in many different ways - as all the posts were very individual & personal.

    Just goes to show - that there are many differing symptoms in bowel cancer, all of which need investigating when first presenting.


  • I didn’t have any blood in my poo, no weight loss, nor diarrhoea. I did need to go to the toilet more often than was normal for me. I left it for six weeks, as I thought that seemed a reasonable amount of time, and I only went to the doctors because I started getting a pain in my lower back which made me feel sick. I know that I wouldn’t have bothered if it weren’t for the feeling sick. Blood tests came back all clear. The poo test came back showing a tiny trace of blood, so the doctor asked if I minded getting into the system. Sigmoidoscopy showed dark poo which the doctor said needed further investigation. Colonoscopy followed and I saw that part of my bowel looked weird. It looked angry and bright red. I realised then that it was cancer. It was a massive shock. 

  • I was diagnosed in April 2022 through the bowel screening process which came  back positive. After various scans and a colonoscopy and a sigmoidoscopy cancer was diagnosed.  I had no symptoms whatsoever so very thankful for the screening process.

  • Blood tests don’t show most early cancers!

    I’ve only just asked that question this week and I was told that it doesn’t show unless they look for certain markers so really we need to be diagnosed then they can check. Before they can do their screening it doesn’t show

    They do an amazing job with the knowledge they have