Black poo with a ‘bad odour’ could signal cancer – expert

Bowel cancer: Dr Philippa Kaye lists the symptoms

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Poo is made up of water, indigestible food, dead bacteria and other waste products. The consistency, colour and smell of your stools is a strong indicator of your health. It can also reveal signs of more serious problems.

One expert spoke with about what the colour of your stools could mean.

Doctor Joseph Ambani, from GlowBar, warned that black poo with a “bad” odour could be real cause for concern.

“A black stool with a bad odour is a bad sign,” he said.

“It can represent inflammation, gastrointestinal bleeding, gastritis, colon cancer, inflammation or colon polyps.”

Colon cancer is also known as bowel cancer.

This form of the disease is the fourth most common cancer in the UK, with nearly 43,000 people diagnosed every year.

It is also the second biggest cancer killer, leading to more than 16,500 deaths every year.

Bowel cancer means the cancer has started in the large bowel (colon) and the back passage (rectum).

Therefore, common signs of early stage bowel cancer are usually noticeable when going to the toilet.

Red poo

Red stools could also be a sign of bowel cancer.

“Red poop can be caused by foods such as tomato juice, beets, and cranberries,” Dr Ambani said.

“It might also result from colon cancers and digestive disorders.

“If you think your red poo is not caused by diet, contact your doctor or physician as soon as possible.”

Hard poo

Dr Ambani said: “A hard stool can result from diet (eating a diet low in fibre), dehydration and physical inactivity.

“It can also represent irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

“For some people, hard stool can result from medical conditions such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, hypothyroidism, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.”

Other bowel cancer symptoms

According to Cancer Research UK, bowel cancer symptoms can include:

  • Bleeding from the back passage (rectum) or blood in your poo
  • A change in your normal bowel habit, such as looser poo, pooing more often or constipation
  • A lump that your doctor can feel in your back passage or tummy (abdomen), more commonly on the right side
  • A feeling of needing to strain in your back passage (as if you need to poo), even after opening your bowels
  • Losing weight
  • Pain in your abdomen or back passage
  • Tiredness and breathlessness caused by a lower than normal level of red blood cells (anaemia).

However, if it spreads to other parts of the body it can cause other symptoms.

If it has spread to the lungs you may notice:

  • Discomfort or pain on the right side of your abdomen
  • Feeling sick
  • Poor appetite and weight loss
  • Swollen abdomen (called ascites)
  • Yellowing of the skin (jaundice)
  • Itchy skin.

And it has spread to the bones you could experience:

  • An ache or pain in the affected bone
  • A weakened bone which is more prone to break or fracture
  • Tiredness
  • Feeling sick (nausea)
  • Constipation
  • Irritability
  • Thirst
  • Confusion.

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