Bowel Cancer UK

During the appointment, your GP will ask you some questions about your symptoms. You can get ready for your appointment by thinking about your answers to some of the following questions.

Your GP may also ask you whether there have been any changes in your life recently. For example, a change in your diet, any new medicines, any stress you might be under or any recent travel abroad. They may ask you about any other illnesses or treatment you have had. They will also ask about any close family history. Take as much information to your appointment as you can. 

Your GP may examine you. They may feel your stomach area (abdomen) to see if there are any lumps or tender areas. They may also do a digital rectal examination (DRE). This involves putting a gloved finger inside the back passage (anus) to feel for any lumps. This can be uncomfortable but it shouldn’t be painful and it is over quickly.

You may also have a blood test to check for low levels of red blood cells (anaemia) and to check your liver and kidneys are working properly.

Your GP may refer you to see a colorectal specialist at the hospital for more tests. You will get an urgent referral, which means you should get an appointment to either see a specialist or have more tests within two weeks.

You will get an appointment for an outpatient clinic where the specialist may decide you need one or more of the following tests:

  • Endoscopy (usually flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy)
  • Virtual colonoscopy (CT colonography)

This doesn’t mean that you have cancer – most people who are referred to hospital don’t have cancer. But acting quickly will give you the best chance of successful treatment if you do have cancer.

For more information on the diagnosis of bowel cancer, follow this link.

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