Page 16 - HOT NEWS APRIL 2014
P. 16
apRIL 2014
BOWEL CANCER is a general term for cancer that begins in the large bowel. Depending on where the cancer starts, bowel cancer is sometimes called colon cancer or rectal cancer.
SYMPTOMS OF BOWEL CANCER include blood in your stools (faeces), an unexplained change in your bowel habits, such as prolonged diarrhoea or constipation, and unexplained weight loss.
Cancer can sometimes start in the small bowel (small intestine), but small bowel cancer is much rarer than large bowel cancer.
In England, bowel cancer is the third most common type of cancer.
• It is the second most common cancer in women after breast cancer.
• It is the third most common cancer after prostate and lung cancer in men.
Approximately 72% of bowel cancer cases develop in people who are 65 or over.
Two-thirds of bowel cancers develop in the colon, with the remaining third developing in the rectum.
Things that increase your risk of getting bowel cancer include:
• Age – around 72% of people diagnosed with bowel cancer are over 65.
• Diet – a diet high in fibre and low in saturated fat could reduce your bowel cancer risk, a diet high in red or processed meats can increase your risk.
• Healthy weight – leaner people are less likely to develop bowel cancer than obese people.
• Exercise – being inactive increases the risk of getting bowel cancer.
• Alcohol and smoking – high alcohol intake and smoking may increase your chances of getting bowel cancer.
• Family history and inherited conditions – having a close relative with bowel cancer puts you at much greater risk of developing the disease.
• Related conditions – having certain bowel conditions can put you more at risk of getting bowel cancer.
Currently, everyone between the ages of 60 and 69 is offered bowel cancer screening every two years and the screening programme is currently being extended in England to those aged 70 to 75.
Screening is carried out by taking a small stool sample and testing it for the presence of blood (faecal occult blood test).
In addition, an extra screening test is being introduced over the next three years for all people who are 55-years-old. This test involves a camera examination of the lower bowel called a flexible sigmoidoscopy.
Even if you are not in these age groups but you have concerns or have noticed any of the symptoms above you should contact your GP for advice.
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.
More information can also be found on these websites:
Former Everton player Kevin Sheedy has been announced as an ambassador for the charity Beating Bowel Cancer.
Kevin was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2012 and both his parents have been affected by the disease. Following treatment, Kevin was given the all-clear and is now helping to raise awareness of bowel cancer.
Kevin said: “I realised that I needed to talk to a doctor when I started going to the toilet more often. I’d heard the Be Clear on Cancer adverts of the radio, so when I was passing blood I knew I had to get checked out.
“I recognise how lucky I was to catch it early and get great treatment. Now I want to help raise awareness of the symptoms, particularly amongst men, who can be very reluctant to seek help.”
Beating Bowel Cancer’s Specialist Nurse Advisors are on hand to offer support and answer questions and concerns. Their confidential helpline is open from 9am to 5.30pm, Monday to Thursday, and from 9am to 4pm on Friday: Call 08450 719301 (low call rate) or by email:
Kevin is now an Ambassador for the charity. Photo issued and supplied by the charity Beating Bowel Cancer.

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