Bowel (colon) cancer arises from polyps which undergo genetic changes over years and result in the development of cancer. Bowel cancer may present with a change in your bowel habit. The symptoms include:
- Loose stools/diarrhoea
- Constipation – new onset
- Passing blood/mucus from the back passage
- Some people may have no symptoms at all
Depending on your symptoms, a colonoscopy (camera test to look at the colon) may be warranted. This is done as a day procedure; you don’t require admission to hospital.
I have been involved in bowel cancer screening as a registered bowel screening colonoscopist at St Vincent’s University Hospital and the Matermisericordiae University Hospital. If polyps can be identified and removed early this is likely to prevent their development into cancer. Equally if cancerous polyps can be detected early this makes it more likely they can be cured.
I am often able to remove polyps at the time of a colonoscopy, though sometimes larger polyps may require a further colonoscopy. For advanced cancerous polyps/tumours, the site can be marked, and following further scans, a decision about surgery can be made later.
I will follow up on any samples taken at the time of your colonoscopy and write back to you and your GP. Alternatively, I may organise to see you in the clinic with the results and/or further assess you. I will aim to organise any relevant investigations and see/speak to you with these results.