Colon cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK and the second leading cause of cancer death. In the UK, over 42,000 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer each year. About 268,000 people living in the UK today have been diagnosed with colon cancer. Recognizing the unusual early warning signs is key with any type of cancer. What should you be looking for?

The National Library of Health describes Tenesmus as a potential cancer warning sign.

The health page states, “Tenesmus or the feeling of having a bowel movement without a bowel movement, painful bowel movements, or sciatica can be symptoms of rectal cancer.

Sciatica is an ominous symptom that indicates locally advanced rectal cancer with strong neural involvement of the tumor.”


Rectal tenesmus is a feeling of not being able to empty the colon, even when nothing more has to be expelled.

Several medical conditions can cause tenesmus.

These include inflammatory bowel disease, colon cancer, and conditions that affect how muscles move food through the intestines.

The condition can be painful, especially if you experience cramps or other digestive symptoms.

Symptoms can come and go or last long.

Tenesmus often refers to spasmodic rectal pain and makes a person feel like they need to have a bowel movement, even if they have already had one.

Who is at risk of developing colon cancer?

Your risk of developing colon cancer (colon and rectal cancer) depends on many factors, including age, genetics, and lifestyle factors.

Many studies have shown that consuming lots of red and processed meat increases the risk of colon cancer.

According to Cancer Research UK, an estimated 13 out of 100 colon cancer cases in the UK are linked to consumption of this meat.

Processed meat is any meat that has been treated in order to preserve and / or season it – for example bacon, salami, sausages, tinned meat or chicken nuggets. And one serving consists of about two sausages or three slices of ham.

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