Tenesmus is the bowel cancer symptom you’ve probably never heard of

GOING to the toilet for a number two is completely normal and everyone has different bowel habits.

But it can feel embarrassing to talk about any issues and changes you might be going through.

Tenesmus is the bowel cancer symptom you’ve probably never heard of

Talking about your bowel habits can be embarrassing and it's important to take note of any changes you might experienceCredit: Getty

While most of the time a change in your poo isn't anything to worry about – you should always speak to your GP just in case.

This could be if the frequency of your number twos have changed, for example if you're going more often – or if there is blood in your poo or it's runnier than usual.

All of these issues are signs of bowel cancer – which is one of the most common forms of the illness in the UK.

It can strike at any time, but the NHS says it's more common in people over the age of 60.

If you're suffering with bowel cancer you might also experience a tender abdomen.

But experts say there is one bowel symptom you might not suspect when it comes to the disease – and that's tenesmus.

GP Dr Laurence Knott said that this is a feeling of needing to completely empty the bowels, while passing little or no stool.

Writing on Patient, he explained: “Tenesmus may be constant or intermittent, and is usually accompanied by pain, cramping and involuntary straining efforts.

“It can be a temporary and transient problem related to constipation.

“The term rectal tenesmus is sometimes used to differentiate from vesical tenesmus, which is an overwhelming desire to empty the bladder.”

There are a range of causes of tenesmus, with the most common being irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

One of the other causes could be colorectal tumours, especially polyps.

Again, these tumours aren't always cancerous, but tenesmus is a common symptom in patients who have advanced bowel, genitourinary or prostate cancer.

If you have the condition and have other symptoms such as weight loss and rectal bleeding then you need to get checked out.

When visiting the doctors for the condition, it's likely they will first undertake an abdominal examination.

This will then likely be followed by a rectal examination which might detect inflamed bowels or a large polyp.

In most cases, the condition can be treated easily.

But tenesmus isn't just a sign of bowel cancer, and people who suffer with the illness may also experience Crohn's disease, haemorrhoids, endometriosis or rectal chlamydia.

Experts say that if the reason for your illness is constipation then simple measures – including adding more fibre to your diet would be beneficial.

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