Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

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April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, supported by Bowel Cancer UK as an opportunity to raise the profile of bowel cancer and the work that the charity does to support investigation for early diagnosis and provide the best care and support for patients and families.

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer which is diagnosed in the UK. It is mostly found in people aged in their 60s and 70s. Over 95% of bowel cancers occur in people over the age of 50.

The term “bowel cancer” covers five different types of cancer, all of which affect different parts of the bowel. These are colon cancer, rectal cancer, anal cancer, small bowel cancer and anorectal melanoma cancer.

The five main symptoms to be aware of are:

  • persistent and unexplained changes in your toilet habits
  • weight loss with no obvious reason
  • extreme tiredness with no obvious reason
  • pain or a lump in your tummy
  • blood in your poo.

It is important to take any symptoms seriously and speak to your doctor if the symptoms do not resolve after three weeks. If you are aged over 60 you may be invited to take part in the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Scheme. It has been shown that bowel cancer screening can detect bowel cancer at its earlier stage when there is a 90% chance of curing it.

There are a number of tests that can be used to check and diagnose bowel cancer. The type of test you undergo will depend on what type of cancer you may have. These include rectal examinations, blood tests, colonoscopies, sigmoidoscopies and biopsies.

There are a number of risk factors which may mean you are more likely to develop bowel cancer such as age, diet, physical activity, weight, whether you smoke, whether you have diabetes, whether you have any pre-existing family history.

For more information about bowel cancer and the support that is available, go to the following websites:


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