Bowel cancer symptoms

In addition to participating in bowel cancer screening, there are symptoms that you can look out for to improve your chance of early detection.

Bowel cancer symptoms include:


Blood in the stools (faeces/poo) or bleeding from the rectum.

Changes in bowel habit

A persistent change in usual bowel habit such as more or less frequent bowel movements (or the feeling of having to go more frequently), or looser (more diarrhoea-like) stools.


Abdominal pain, discomfort or bloating. You may also feel a lump or mass in your tummy or pain in the rectum.

Some bowel cancer symptoms are even more subtle or non-specific, and can include:

  • feeling of needing to strain (as if you need to pass a bowel movement) or feeling that the bowel has not emptied completely after passing a bowel movement

  • unexplained weight loss

  • unexplained tiredness

  • feeling light headed (dizziness)

  • weakness

  • breathlessness

  • unexplained anaemia (low red blood cells).

These symptoms are not specific to bowel cancer and could be caused by other conditions. If you have one or more of the above symptoms it is important to see your doctor, even if you have taken the bowel cancer screening test.

Bowel cancer symptoms during COVID-19

Bowel cancer symptoms during COVID-19

Bowel cancer is Australia’s second biggest cancer killer. That is why it is important to be informed and stay aware of the signs and symptoms of bowel cancer – even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you are showing symptoms or have concerns, stay safe and see your doctor today.