Let’s talk about bowel cancer
Our bowels aren’t always on the top of our list of things we choose talk about but April is bowel cancer awareness month so let’s get to it!
In England, bowel cancer is the third most common type of cancer. In 2010, there were over 40,000 new cases of bowel cancer registered in the UK. Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in the UK and over 15,700 people die each year.
Are you worried you might have the symptoms of bowel cancer? Blood in your poo or bleeding from your rectum? A change to your normal bowel habits for more than three weeks (such as diarrhoea, constipation or passing stools more frequently than usual)?Talk to your GP, they have seen it all so don’t be embarrassed!
Older people are most at risk of bowel cancer and younger people can be affected too. Currently, everyone between the ages of 60 and 69 registered with a GP is offered bowel cancer screening every two years. If you are in this age bracket you will automatically be sent an invitation, then a screening kit that you can do at home. Your GP will provide your contact details, so it is important that he or she has your correct name and address.
Dr Marc Rowland, Lewisham GP and Chair of Lewisham CCG said:
“Screening is 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. Make sure your GP has your current name and address so screening information reaches you. Nobody likes getting the sample and sending it off but a few moments doing that could save you a lot of time and problems later.”
“There are also some basic things you can do to help reduce your chance of bowel cancer: more fibre, less saturated fat. You don’t need to go overboard to get enough fibre in your diet, just try a bran breakfast cereal in the morning and whole wheat bread.”
“Getting more fruit and vegetables and less processed food in your diet helps too. Some fruit and veg like beans, peas and raspberries are high in fibre. Keep your diet low in things like sausages, cakes and pastries which are high in saturated fat. Your bowels will thank you and so will your heart.”
According to the British Dietetic Association the average man should eat no more than 30g of saturated fat a day, and women only 20g. Check the dietary information on your food at the supermarket if you are unsure. Keeping active and drinking and smoking less can also help reduce the risk.
- For information on screening and symptoms, go to NHS Choices
- There is also a bowel cancer screening helpline: 0800 707 6060.
- To learn more about Bowel Cancer Awareness month and how to get involved go to Bowel Cancer UK's website