Bowel Cancer Awareness Month: Removing the Stigma

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April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, and unfortunately, as many ostomates know, the disease can have life-changing effects if not caught early. 

One of the most common cancers in the UK, Bowel Cancer can be hard to detect in the early stages, which is why it’s vitally important to be aware of the symptoms and to take action if you have any concerns.

Treatments and therapies are improving all the time, especially when there are high-profile campaigns which we’ve seen recently with the late Dame Deborah James’ Bowel Babe, which has raised an incredible £11.3 million so far. Since her campaign began, a record number of people have come forward for bowel cancer checks, prompting the NHS to expand its diagnostic capacity through the use of mobile clinics, cancer hotlines and screening kits being sent to those aged 60 to 74 every two years, and this will be soon expanded to include people aged 50 plus. 

Bowel Cancer: what are the symptoms?

Some early-stage symptoms can be common ailments for many adults at one time or another. It’s important to be aware of what is normal for you, and if there are any changes from your usual habits that can’t be explained and continue for longer than three weeks, it’s best to get checked out by your GP. Here are some of the common symptoms:

  • A persistent change in bowel habits, such as diarrhoea or constipation
  • Blood in your poo or rectal bleeding, can be bright red or dark in colour
  • Abdominal pain or bloating
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • General fatigue or weakness

One of the other aims of Bowel Cancer Awareness Month is to remove the stigma and embarrassment of talking about poo with your Doctor or your family, especially with younger people, who perhaps feel that colorectal cancer is something that only older people get. Whilst the prevalence of this type of cancer is much rarer for young adults, it can occur, and if you have any concerns, you should consult your GP regardless of your age. 

More information on screening, symptoms and treatments for bowel cancer can be found on the NHS website.


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