Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK, and over 41,000 people are diagnosed with the disease every year in the UK. Bowel cancer can affect people of any age, and 1 in 14 men and 1 in 19 women will be diagnosed with the disease during their lifetime.
I have dealt with many cases involving bowel cancer and it is a terrible disease, but it is treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early. Nearly everyone diagnosed at the earliest stage will survive bowel cancer, and the majority of my clients have gone on to live normal lives after treatment. However, the survival rate drops significantly as the disease develops, so it is really important that everyone knows the symptoms to look out for, which can include;
- Bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your stools;
- A change in bowel habit lasting three weeks or more;
- Unexplained weight loss;
- Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason;
- A pain or lump in your abdomen.
Most people with these symptoms don’t have bowel cancer, and other health problems can cause similar symptoms, but if you have one or more of these, or if things just don’t feel right, go to see your GP. Don’t be embarrassed and don’t ignore them – doctors are used to seeing lots of people with bowel problems.
Screening is another important tool in the fight against bowel cancer, and if you are over 60 years old you will be invited to take part in bowel cancer screening every two years. It’s free and you will receive a test kit in the post. Screening can detect bowel cancer at an early stage in people with no symptoms, when it is easier to treat. Sometimes it can prevent bowel cancer from developing in the first place by picking up non-cancerous growths (polyps) which could become cancerous in the future.
However, in some areas of the UK only a third of people who receive a test complete it. Thousands of people are therefore missing out on the chance to detect bowel cancer early.
Screening will help stop people dying from bowel cancer. We can all raise awareness of bowel cancer screening this Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, so;
- If you are over 60 (or over 50 in Scotland), take the test when you receive it in the post;
- If you are younger, tell the people over 60 (or over 50 in Scotland) in your life, to take the test;
- If you or anyone you know experiences any of the symptoms listed above, go to your GP.
For more information you can also visit www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk