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NHS Lewisham CCG supports Bowel Cancer Awareness Month 2018

Bowel Cancer UK and Beating Bowel Cancer logo.jpgIn Lewisham, 10% of cancer related deaths are caused by bowel cancer, that’s why, GPs in Lewisham are supporting Bowel Cancer Awareness Month.  The campaign takes place in April and is aimed to highlight the importance of early diagnosis in tackling one of the most prominent forms of cancer.

Bowel cancer is a common type of cancer in both men and women. About 1 in 20 people will get it during their lifetime and currently cancer affects more than 40,000 people a year in the UK. Although Lewisham’s overall cancer mortality rates are in line with those expected in the UK, this figure masks a significant increase in the mortality figures for males under 75 years, specifically increased mortality rates from bowel and lung cancer. There are many reasons behind for this including a greater than average prevalence of smoking (20.2% versus 17.8% for London) that will constitute a strong component of increased incidence and mortality of lung cancer. There is also a known link between smoking and lower-social economic status, and Lewisham has a high level of deprivation, being within the 20% of most deprived Local Authorities (Index of Multiple Deprivation 2015). In addition, there is evidence in the literature that ethnic minorities often present later than average, with higher stage cancer, and Lewisham has a substantial BAME population.

More than half of cancers could be prevented by changes in peoples’ behaviours such as low fruit and vegetable intake and high intake of red and processed meat for bowel cancer.

Dr. Marc Rowland, GP and Chair of NHS Lewisham Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Colorectal cancer can be treated effectively if caught early enough and people can minimise the risk by following simple advice including diet and exercise.

“Those aged 55 and older will be automatically contacted about screening but if you have any symptoms or concerns, contact your GP straight away.”

Symptoms can include:

persistent blood in the stools – that occurs for no obvious reason or is associated with a change in bowel habit

  • a persistent change in your bowel habit – which usually means going more often, with looser stools

  • persistent lower abdominal (tummy) pain, bloating or discomfort – that's always caused by eating and may be associated with loss of appetite or significant unintentional weight loss


In Lewisham, bowel cancer screening is offered to all men and women aged 60 to 74 every 2 years. The test can be carried out in the privacy of your home, and involves the use of a Faecal Occult Blood Test, which tests bowel motions for tiny amounts of blood that are not detected to the eye. A sample kit is sent out to your home. For more information please go to


If you're unsure whether to see your GP, try the bowel cancer symptom checker.

Read more about NHS screening for bowel cancer.

We encourage residents of Lewisham to seek advice on how to minimise the risk of bowel cancer here. The South East London Cancer Help Centre  also provides an excellent source of advice and support outside the NHS with many of its staff having survived cancer.