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Bowel problems with cancer

This information is about bowel problems that people with any type of cancer might have. These problems may be caused by the cancer or by treatments.

Find out what these problems are, what causes them, and what treatments there are. This can help you cope with these problems.

About the bowel

The bowel is the part of the digestive system that goes from the stomach to the back passage (anus). It is a hollow, muscular tube.

A normal bowel habit

Bowel habits vary a lot in different people. You might wonder how often you should go to the toilet but there’s no right or wrong answer.

Talking about bowel problems

Doctors or nurses may ask you to describe your bowel habits and what your poo (stool) looks like. This helps with your diagnosis.

Types of bowel problems in people with cancer

The two most common problems are diarrhoea and constipation. But people with cancer might also have problems with bowel blockages, passing wind or having a colostomy or ileostomy.

Resources and support

There are lots of organisations, support groups and helpful books to help you cope with bowel problems caused by cancer and its treatment.

Last reviewed: 
27 Feb 2014

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