Bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer to be diagnosed in the UK.
The disease is a general term for any cancer that begins in the lower bowel.
Most people diagnosed with bowel cancer are over 60 years old, but it can affect people of all ages.
Bowel cancer symptoms can be very subtle, so it may be difficult to know you’re at risk.
But, one of the easiest ways to know if you have bowel cancer is to monitor your toilet trips.
Finding blood in your stool is one of the most common signs of bowel cancer.
The blood may not necessarily appear bright red. Bright red blood is usually a sign of haemorrhoids.
Blood from the bowel may become darker coloured, so look out for any dark red tinge in your stool.
Going to the toilet more often than normal could also be a sign of bowel cancer, said the NHS.
You should also watch out for any persistent changes to the structure of your stool.
That includes persistent loose stools, the NHS warned.
Some patients may experience abdominal pain – or tummy aches – while passing a stool, or immediately after.
“If you have one or more of the symptoms of bowel cancer, and they persist for more than four weeks, you should see your GP,” said the NHS.
“Most people with these symptoms do not have bowel cancer. Other health problems can cause similar symptoms.
“These symptoms should be taken more seriously as you get older and when they persist despite simple treatments.”
It’s not exactly known what causes bowel cancer, but there are a number of things that could increase your risk.
Almost 90 per cent of all bowel cancer cases are diagnosed in people aged 60 or over.
Eating too much red or processed meat, while not eating enough fibre, could raise your risk.
Keeping physically active could help to prevent bowel cancer, said the NHS.
All adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity every week.