"Don't ignore bowel cancer", warn local doctors
April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and GPs in NHS Lewisham CCG are reminding local men and women to ensure they take part in regular screening.
Bowel Cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in the UK, but it shouldn't be as if diagnosed at the early stages bowel cancer is highly treatable.
Around 110 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer [i] in Lewisham every year[ii] and around 49 people die from bowel cancer[iii] in Lewisham every year[iv]. Regular screenings can help to save thousands of lives.
Symptoms of bowel cancer may include, bleeding from the bottom and/or blood in your poo and/or a change in your normal bowel habit lasting three weeks or more. Other symptoms include extreme tiredness for no obvious reason and unexplained weight loss. If you notice these symptoms, speak to your GP. Remember you can talk to your GP about anything, they've seen it all so you shouldn't be embarrassed.
Dr Marc Rowland, a local GP and Chair at NHS Lewisham CCG said that as a GP they saw a wide range of different health problems.
"Our bowels aren't always on the top of our list of things we choose to talk about but it's important that we do," he said
"Screening plays an important part in the fight against bowel cancer because the earlier the cancer is diagnosed, the greater the chance it can be cured completely.
"There are lots of things you can do to help reduce your risk of bowel cancer, like trying to maintain a diet high in fibre, for example by eating wholegrains such as brown rice and granary bread, and avoiding too many processed meats such as ham, bacon and sausages."
Older people are most at risk of bowel cancer, but younger people can be affected too. Currently, everyone between the ages of 60 and 69 who is registered with a GP is offered bowel cancer screening every two years. People in this age group will automatically be sent an invitation, then their screening kit, so they can do the test at home.
The problem is that far too few people with bowel cancer are diagnosed in the early stages. Some people either find it uncomfortable to discuss the symptoms or simply do not know what they are.
For more information on screening and symptoms go to NHS Choices at www.nhs.uk or visit Bowel Cancer UK
[i] Data is for bowel cancer (ICD-10 C17 – C21)
[ii] Based on the average number of new bowel cancer cases diagnosed in Lewisham Local Authority between 2010 and 2012.
[iii] Data is for bowel cancer (ICD-10 C17 – C21)
[iv] Based on the average number of bowel cancer deaths in Lewisham Local Authority between 2011 and 2013.
NOTES TO EDITORS
Data source: https://indicators.ic.nhs.uk/webview/ 25.03.15. Please note that Cancer Research UK code bowel cancer as ICD10 C18 – C20. Information was provided by Local Authority data.