Symptoms | Incontinence
Bowel cancer and incontinence: what you need to know
Learn about the different aspects of bowel cancer and its relationship to incontinence in this informative article. Discover the early signs, symptoms, risk factors, and more. Don't let embarrassment keep you from seeking the help you need. We have a wide range of pads for faecal incontinence available on our website to help manage any incontinence issues.
In this article
- What is bowel cancer symptoms
- What is bowel cancer?
- What are the early signs of bowel cancer?
- Can bowel cancer be hereditary?
- Can bowel cancer be detected in a blood test?
- Can bowel cancer be cured?
- What are the main risk factors for bowel cancer?
- Is Incontinence a sign of bowel cancer?
- Does Bowel Cancer Cause Incontinence?
What is bowel cancer?
Bowel cancer is cancer that begins in the colon (large bowel) or the rectum (back passage). Its medical title is colorectal cancer. All cancers emerge when abnormal cells uncontrollably divide and grow. The cells can grow into the tissue or organs that surround them, and from here spread to other parts of the body.
Your treatment will depend on where cancer starts. The treatment for colon cancer may be different from that for rectal cancers.
The colon is part of the large bowel and is around five feet long, which is split into four parts:
- ascending colon,
- transverse colon,
- descending colon and
- sigmoid colon.
Our rectum is part of the passage that stores stool (poo) until it is ready to be passed out of the body into the toilet. Anal cancers begin at our anus, and small bowel cancers begin between the stomach and the large bowel.
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What are bowel cancer symptoms?
Most people who are eventually diagnosed with bowel cancer have one of the following combinations of symptoms:
- Blood in the stools (poo)
- Changes in bowel habit – such as more frequent, looser stools
- Abdominal (tummy) pain
It's important to remember that these symptoms are very common and often caused by other things, like hemorrhoids (piles) or something you've eaten.
As almost 9 out of 10 people with bowel cancer are over the age of 60, these symptoms are more important as people get older.
Don't hesitate to speak to your healthcare provider if you're concerned.
Any changes in toilet habits, extreme fatigue and sudden weight loss should also signal a concern. Although these are more generic symptoms, they are an early indicator of problems, and you need to see a GP. Even if all you are saying is that you don’t feel right, trust your instincts and get a check-up.
Can bowel cancer be hereditary?
Family history – having a close relative (mother or father, brother or sister) who developed bowel cancer under the age of 50 may put you at a greater lifetime risk of developing the condition.
Some people have an increased risk of bowel cancer because they have another condition that affects their bowel, such as severe ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease, over a long period of time.
If you develop bowel cancer before the age of 50, there is a chance you have Lynch syndrome. The medical name for Lynch syndrome is hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC). It is thought this is a result of several potential inherited gene mutations. Alternatively, if there are a cluster of cases of bowel cancer in a family if could be a condition called familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP).
However, hereditary bowel cancers are relatively uncommon. The NHS note that these two inherited conditions are considered rare.
Is bowel cancer treatable?It is vital to differentiate between the terms curable and treatable. It is possible to treat bowel cancer and so live with the condition, even though you are unlikely to be cured. Stage IV bowel cancer is often not curable, but your doctors may be confident with a combination of surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy that your disease can be managed. The doctors can also prescribe medicines that will help to ease the symptoms and make living with bowel cancer bearable.
What are the main risk factors for bowel cancer?
The most significant risk factor for bowel cancer is age. Nine out of ten diagnoses of bowel cancer are in people over the age of 60.
You can increase your risk for bowel cancer by:
- Eating a lot of red or unprocessed meats
- Failing to balance meat-eating with adequate high fibre foods
- Being overweight or obese
- Failing to exercise, therefore leading a sedentary lifestyle
Is Bowel Incontinence a Sign of Cancer?
Bowel leakage is rarely a sign of cancer. In cases where bowel leakage is caused by a condition such as irritable bowel syndrome or muscle weakness, gaining control of the underlying condition can help improve bowel control. Strengthening exercises and medications can help reduce the frequency of bowel leakage, and absorbent pads can make the condition less disruptive.
While bowel leakage can be embarrassing, it’s a common condition. Most causes aren’t serious, but it’s essential to see a doctor to pin down the cause and determine the appropriate treatments.
At Hartmann Direct, we understand how challenging incontinence can be, and we are committed to providing you with the best possible care and support. Our wide range of continence aids, including pads, pants, and bed protectors, are designed to help you manage your symptoms and maintain your comfort and dignity. Additionally, our disinfection and skincare products can help you maintain a clean and healthy environment, reducing the risk of infection and skin irritation.
Visit our webshop to find a suitable product and subscribe to our newsletter today to take the first step towards greater comfort and confidence.
Does Bowel Cancer Cause Incontinence?Bowel cancer may result in faecal incontinence or the accidental loss of stools or gas. Changes in toilet habit can be an early sign of bowel cancer due to the presence of obstructions in the bowel. However, surgery such as a colonic resection to remove the tumour, as well as pelvic radiotherapy, can also result in incontinence. Your doctor will help you manage these conditions by suggesting a change to your diet and through the prescription of medications.
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