“Don’t Ignore Bowel Cancer” Warn Doctors

Sexagenarian residents reminded of screening during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and GPs in Wandsworth are reminding local men and women to make sure they take part in regular screening.

Around 120 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer1 in Wandsworth every year with about 45 dying from the disease every year2. However, if diagnosed at the early stages bowel cancer is highly treatable. 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 Nicola Jones, a local GP and Chair of Wandsworth CCG said that as a GP she sees 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. 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 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

April 8, 2015