Bowel Cancer Awareness Month
runs throughout April
SCREENING works, so take the test!
That's the message from medical experts who are using Bowel Cancer Awareness
Month to highlight the importance of people over 60 completing the free national
It is the UK's second biggest cancer killer claiming a life every 30 minutes yet
bowel cancer spotted in the earliest stages can be successfully treated in over
95% of cases, say NHS figures. But Bowel Cancer UK says that only a 3rd of
people who receive a free test in the post, sent every 2 years to people aged
between 60 and 74, actually go on to complete it.
"That means... That a vast majority of people are just not
being tested. Screening can detect bowel cancer before any symptoms appear which
means it is much easier to treat and success rates are very high." says Consultant Colorectal Surgeon Mr Fraser Smith.
Mr Smith, who practices at Spire Liverpool Hospital in Greenbank Road, also
urged people of all ages to be on the lookout for symptoms so they could act
quickly if they spotted anything out of the ordinary.
He said:- "A change in your bowel habit that lasts for 3 weeks or more and
blood in your poo are warning signs that need acting upon as soon as possible.
Other signs include unexplained weight loss, feeling tired without reason,
stomach pains or a lump in the stomach.
Your 1st stop is your GP who, after an initial examination, will send patients
with bowel symptoms to be assessed in clinic by a colorectal surgeon usually
meaning a colonoscopy (flexible camera test of the bowel) or a CT scan."
In many cases there is not a clear cut reason why some people develop bowel
cancer, but you can reduce your personal risk of developing cancer by making
some simple lifestyle choices...
► Stop smoking:- Long term smokers are more likely than non-smokers to
develop bowel cancer.
► Watch your weight:- After not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight is the
most important thing you can do for cancer prevention.
► Cut down on alcohol:- Bowel cancer has been linked to a heavy intake of
alcohol. The more you cut down, the more you reduce your risk.
► Exercise regularly:- Besides using up extra calories and helping you avoid
gaining weight, being physically active also helps food to move through your
digestive system more quickly.
► Eat healthily:- Make sure you eat plenty of dietary fibre from whole
grains, seeds, fruit and vegetables. This helps to move waste quickly through
your digestive system. Also drink plenty of water.
Mr Smith added:- "The most recent figure show bowel cancer claims the
lives of around 16,000 people in the UK every year so Bowel Cancer Awareness
Month is a good time to let people know they can actually do positive things to
improve their health and increase their chances of successful treatment."