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Bowel Cancer UK

Question: Why talk about bowel cancer?

Answer: Because it could literally save your life

Every 15 minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with bowel cancer and many of these people will be diagnosed late because they don’t know the symptoms or act upon them.

Leading charity Bowel Cancer UK is now celebrating its 21st anniversary- of improving the quality of life of all those affected by the disease through its information and support, education and campaigning activities. The charity ultimately aims to reduce the number of deaths from bowel cancer in the UK.

Every year, more than 35,000 men and women are diagnosed with bowel cancer, the UK’s second biggest cancer killer. 85% of those diagnosed are over the age of 60 but there are increasing numbers of people being diagnosed with bowel cancer under the age of 45 too. Bowel cancer is the most easily treated of all cancers if it is identified early, but sadly current figures show that almost 50% of those diagnosed will die through being diagnosed too late.

A survey showed that 84% of people would rather ignore their symptoms- very alarming that the majority of people would potentially opt to be diagnosed later with cancer and therefore reduce their chances of successful treatment, over embarrassment at the thought of talking about their bottoms!

We must change this. If we can find a way of getting everyone to overcome embarrassment and start talking about bowels and bottoms, more people will become more symptom aware; more people will take part in the bowel cancer screening programme when they are eligible; and more people will understand that the sooner that they act on their concerns, the greater their chances of survival will be. In this way, together we can drive down the number of deaths from a devastating 16,000 people a year.

Most symptoms will not turn out to be bowel cancer and if caught early, bowel cancer is highly treatable, so the message simple- in nine out of ten cases, the earlier you talk to someone about your concerns, the sooner you are likely to get reassurance that everything is ok! Our advice is always to get any symptoms investigated as soon as possible though, rather than worrying in silence. The symptoms of bowel cancer can be similar to those of other less serious conditions, but things that need to be investigated further are:

• A change to your normal bowel pattern that lasts for more than four weeks
• Bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo
• Unexplained tiredness
• A pain or a lump in your abdomen

You can help reduce your risk of bowel cancer by:
• Getting to know your normal bowel pattern
• Keeping to a healthy weight
• Getting regular exercise
• Drinking plenty of water (8 glasses a day)
• Increasing your fibre intake
• Reducing red and processed meat, saturated fat and alcohol intake
• Being aware of your family cancer history
• Stopping smoking

Bowel Cancer UK’s services include an Advisory Line and email enquiry service which offer practical and emotional support to all those concerned about the disease. The charity also offers a website, publications, health education programmes and advice on campaigning for access to treatments. Our specialist nurses offer up-to-date medical information, advice on symptoms, screening, treatments and prevention. We involve the views of people affected by bowel cancer in the media and the development of our services at all levels.

Concerned about bowel cancer? Speak to one of our specialist nurses.
FREEPHONE: 0800 8 40 35 40

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