GPs encourage local people to get to know their bowels
April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and GPs in Lewisham are reminding local people to ensure they take part in regular screening.
Bowel Cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in the UK. However, if diagnosed in the early stages, it's highly treatable. On average, over 170 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer across Lewisham every year. Regular screenings can help to save thousands of lives.
Symptoms of bowel cancer may include:
- bleeding from the bottom
- blood in your poo
- a change in your normal bowel habit lasting three weeks or more
- extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
- unexplained weight loss.
If you notice these symptoms, speak to your GP. And remember - you can talk to your GP about anything. They've seen it all before, so there's no need to be embarrassed.
Dr David Abraham, a local GP and Senior Clinical Director Lead at NHS Lewisham CCG said that as a GP he saw a wide range of different health problems.
"Our bowels may not be on the top of our list of things 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 followed by a 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. If you have any worries or concerns, you must never be afraid to ask for help or visit your GP.
For more information on screening and symptoms go to NHS Choices at www.nhs.uk or visit Bowel Cancer UK