Bowel Cancer Awareness Month
Bowel cancer is also called colorectal cancer and includes large bowel cancer (colon cancer) and cancer of the back passage (rectal cancer or cancer of the rectum). April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, run by Bowel Cancer UK; with the aim to raise awareness of bowel cancer and raise the importance on bowel cancer screening.
Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK, after breast, prostate and lung cancers.
Over 41,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in the UK
- 94% are diagnosed in people over the age of 50 and 58% in people aged 70 or over.
- But bowel cancer can affect any age. More than 2,400 new cases are diagnosed each year in people under the age of 50.
- 7% of men and 5% of women will be diagnosed with bowel cancer during their lifetime.
Bowel cancer is very treatable but the earlier it is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat. People whose cancer is diagnosed at an early stage have a much higher chance of successful treatment than those whose cancer has become more widespread.
The most common symptoms of bowel cancer include:
- Bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo
- A chance in bowel habit lasting more than 3 weeks
- Unexplained weight loss
- Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
- A pain or lump in your tummy
Bowel cancer screening can save lives but at the moment in some areas of the UK only a third of those who receive a test complete it. Thousands of people are missing out on the chance to detect bowel cancer early when it is easier to treat.
Bowel cancer screening programmes in England, Wales and Northern Ireland invite people over the age of 60 to take part in screening. In Scotland, screening starts from age 50. If you have a GP you will receive a letter inviting you to take part in the bowel cancer screening programme. The letter will include a leaflet, which explains the benefits and risks of screening. You will be invited to take part in screening every two years until you reach the age of 75. The screening programmes use the Faecal occult blood test (FOBT).
The FOBT tests for hidden blood in your bowel movements (poo). It can’t diagnose bowel cancer but, if it shows blood in your poo, you will be invited to your local screening centre to talk about having more tests.
The home test is quick and easy to do. You use the kit to take small samples of your poo on three separate days. You then post the kit back to the screening centre in the pre-paid envelope. The test kit includes an instruction booklet, which shows you what to do and tells you how quickly to send the test back.
Visit the Bowel Cancer UK website for questions, information & resources and how you can get involved to tackle bowel cancer.
Incontinence UK Team