It is the UK’s second biggest cancer killer claiming 16,000 lives a year, yet, figures released by Cancer Research UK show that, if spotted at its earliest stage, bowel cancer can be treated successfully, with nine out of ten people surviving for more than five years1.
Now in support of Bowel Cancer Awareness Month running throughout April, medical experts are calling on people to recognise the symptoms so they are able to act quickly if they spot anything out of the ordinary.
At BMI South Cheshire Private Hospital, in Leighton, Crewe, Consultant Colorectal Surgeon Mr Arif Khan urged people to: “be aware of what is normal for you, so that you recognise any changes”.
The disease was particularly in the public eye throughout the last year following the death of teenager Stephen Sutton and television favourite Lynda Bellingham.
Another leading campaigning charity - Bowel Cancer UK - is also using April to call for extra research into diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
Nick Bason, Head of Communications at Bowel Cancer UK, said: “While major advances have been made in recent years in improving survival rates for bowel cancer, there are still huge research gaps which need to be addressed urgently to improve diagnosis and treatment of the disease. Bowel cancer is both treatable and curable if diagnosed sufficiently early.”
Meanwhile Mr Khan added: “A change in your bowel habit that lasts for three weeks or more, blood in your poo are warning signs that need acting upon as soon as possible. Other signs include unexplained weight loss, feeling tired without reason, stomach pains or a lump in the stomach.”
He also explained that although there was not a clear cut reason why some people develop bowel cancer people can reduce their risk by making some simple lifestyle choices.
FIVE TOP TIPS
Stop smoking: Long-term smokers are more likely than non-smokers to develop bowel cancer.
Watch your weight: After not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight is the most important thing you can do for cancer prevention.
Cut down on alcohol: Bowel cancer has been linked to a heavy intake of alcohol. The more you cut down, the more you reduce your risk.
Exercise regularly: Besides using up extra calories and helping you avoid gaining weight, being physically active also helps food to move through your digestive system more quickly.
Eat healthily: Make sure you eat plenty of dietary fibre from whole grains, seeds, fruit and vegetables. This helps to move waste quickly through your digestive system. Also drink plenty of water.