Bowel Cancer Awareness Month 2019

April is Bowel Cancer Awareness month. 

The campaign is on to make people more aware of this disease and let them know what to do to prevent it from occurring or stopping it in its tracks at the earliest stage.

While it might be unpleasant or uncomfortable to discuss, raising awareness is vital – early detection can make all the difference when it comes to treating and beating bowel cancer.

What is bowel cancer?

Also known as colon or rectal cancer, most bowel cancers develop from non-cancerous polyps which can be removed easily enough if detected early. This cancer occurs when cells in the bowel dramatically multiply and invade the surrounding tissue.

What are the symptoms?

Among the key indicators of possible bowel cancer are blood in your stools, unexplained weight loss, extreme tiredness and pains in your stomach area. Although these symptoms may not necessarily confirm bowel cancer, if you are at all concerned, then don’t think twice about making an appointment with your doctor. Research shows that over 90% of those who are diagnosed at an early stage are successfully treated, so quick detection can save lives.

The screening test

Regular bowel cancer screening has been shown to reduce the risk of death. The screening programme is available across the UK every two years for people between the ages of 60-74 (50-74 in Scotland). An initial kit is provided with full instructions on how to take the test in the privacy of your own home. Once you return the kit, results will be sent back in around two weeks. Depending on the results, further tests may then be required though that won’t necessarily mean you have cancer.

Can it be avoided?

The exact cause of bowel cancer remains unknown but there are factors which might increase your risk. Around 95% of cases occur in the over-50s with no significant statistical differences between men and women. Those who have direct family members with bowel cancer will be considered for extra testing while people with diabetes, Crohn’s disease in the large bowel or who have had previous polyps removed are at increased risk.

Food and fitness 

As with many diseases and illnesses, keeping fit and healthy and avoiding certain triggers will improve your chances of steering clear of bowel cancer. Do eat plenty of fibre and maintain your five-a-day. Don’t consume processed meats and have no more than 500g of red meat each week. Do keep active with regular exercise and avoid caffeine. Keep an eye on your alcohol limits (maximum of 14 units for women, 21 units for men) and don’t smoke.

Have you had a bowel cancer screening test?


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Rachel - Silversurfers Assistant Editor

Hello there! I’m Rachel and I’m the Assistant Editor for Silversurfers. I work behind the scenes to bring interesting, informative and entertaining subject matter to the Silversurfers community. I hope you enjoy the features we have shared with you. Please feel free to comment below and share your thoughts with us, we love to hear from you!

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5th Apr 2017
Thanks for voting!
I found blood in my poo on 3 consecutive days, never seen it before. Was told by practice nurse that I had piles. Given cream and told I would be fine. I stressed my family history of cancer (though no bowel cancer) and was told again not to worry, apply the cream. I agreed to try it for 2 weeks but requested a call back from the GP after 2 weeks. 2 weeks later (no further blood) doc agreed to refer to colorectal specialist.
Sigmoidoscopy followed by colonoscopy indicated large polyp, CT scan clear. However it was agreed that a bowel resection was appropriate because of both my family history and the size of the polyp ( tests on the polyp for cancer had proved inconclusive). 6 weeks after I first saw the nurse I had the surgery, 10 days later I was told the polyp was indeed cancerous. I was lucky, caught very early, the cancer had not invaded the bowel wall and following surgery, no further treatment was necessary. I am a 69 year old woman, I have always completed the bowel screening. This cancer appeared between screening tests. My message? Do the test, it costs nothing, is non invasive, it's in your own bathroom in private. BUT, don't allow yourself to become complacent, check each time you go to the loo, if what you see or feel is not normal for you, see your doctor. Don't be fobbed off, yes, it may be piles, but then again, it may not. The surgery I had was not pleasant, it takes time to recover and your bowel is unlikely to ever be the same as it was but it is better than the alternative.
5th Apr 2017
Thanks for voting!
Thanks for the information on bowl cancer

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