If you've had blood in your poo or looser poo for the last 3 weeks, tell your doctor.

Dr David Isaac

If you've had blood in your poo or looser poo for the last three weeks, tell your doctor. Chances are it's nothing serious, but you're not wasting anyone's time by getting it checked out. Call your GP today.

What could it be?

Some symptoms may be caused by other conditions, such as haemorrhoids (piles), which may still need treatment. But don't try to diagnose yourself. Go and see your doctor now to find out for sure.

Could it be cancer?

Blood in your poo or looser poo can be a sign of bowel cancer, which is why it's so important to see your doctor straight away. Early detection makes it easier to treat. Seeing your doctor could save your life.

I’m glad I didn't leave it any longer before going to my doctor.

Lester Marriott, aged 61

Are there other symptoms of bowel cancer?

Blood in your poo or looser poo is a common sign of bowel cancer, but other symptoms include:

  • a pain or lump in your tummy
  • feeling more tired than usual for some time
  • losing weight for no obvious reason

If you have any of these symptoms, see your GP as soon as possible. If you know anyone who has any of these symptoms, insist they see their doctor.

Find your local GP

What will happen at my GP appointment?

You're not wasting anyone's time by getting your symptoms checked out, and your mind will be put at rest if it's not serious.

At your appointment, your GP will ask you about your symptoms and they may carry out a rectal examination. This involves putting a gloved finger inside your bottom (rectum).

There's no need to feel embarrassed or nervous: it's a quick and painless procedure that GPs are used to doing. The examination usually takes one to five minutes, depending on whether your GP finds anything unusual.

You may be referred to a hospital or specialist clinic if further examinations and tests are needed.


Hear from our GPs

Find out what to expect when you see your doctor – watch the video.

About bowel cancer

Bowel cancer is England's fourth most common cancer, with around 34,000 new cases each year.

Bowel cancer affects both men and women. Most people diagnosed with the disease are over 50, and those with a family history of bowel cancer are more at risk. The sooner a patient is diagnosed, the better their chances of successful treatment.

Bowel cancer screening

If you are aged 60–74, you'll be sent a bowel screening home testing kit every two years. If you are aged 74 or over, you can request a kit by phoning 0800 707 60 60.

The screening kits can help detect bowel cancer early, before you have any symptoms. The kits can also detect polyps, which can be easily removed. Polyps aren't cancers, but in some cases they can develop into cancer.

Reduce your risk

A healthy lifestyle can help you reduce your risk of bowel cancer. Some ways to stay healthy are:

  • stop smoking – if you smoke, the best thing you can do for your health is to quit. There's plenty of support available from the NHS. Visit nhs.uk/smokefree or call 0300 123 1044.
  • look after yourself – try to maintain a healthy weight and keep active. Swimming, cycling, dancing, walking – the more you can do, the better. Try to eat a healthy, balanced diet too, with plenty of fruit and vegetables.
  • cut down on alcohol – drinking too much alcohol can lead to a number of health problems. By drinking less, you'll reduce your health risks.

For more information on how to reduce your risk of cancer, visit nhs.uk/reduce-your-risk.

Content last reviewed: June 2016

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