This month is a fantastic annual opportunity to raise awareness of bowel cancer.
Bowel cancer is the UK’s second biggest cancer killer however it shouldn’t be because it is treatable and curable especially if diagnosed early. Nearly everyone diagnosed at the earliest stage will survive bowel cancer but this drops significantly as the disease develops.
Early diagnosis really does save lives. That’s why during April we’re raising awareness of bowel cancer symptoms and the national screening programme. And you can help spread the word too.
How you can get involved:
- Be aware of the symptoms of bowel cancer and ensure your family, friends and colleagues are aware
The symptoms of bowel cancer can include:
- Bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo
- A persistent and unexplained change in bowel habit
- Unexplained weight loss
- Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
- A pain or lump in your tummy
Take part in Bowel Screening
Bowel cancer screening involves having tests to check if you have or are at risk of developing bowel cancer.
Why it’s offered
Bowel cancer is a common type of cancer in both men and women. About 1 in 20 people will get it during their lifetime. Screening can help detect bowel cancer at an early stage, when it’s easier to treat. It can also be used to help check for and remove small growths in the bowel called polyps, which can turn into cancer over time.
Types of screening test
There are 2 types of test used in NHS bowel cancer screening:
- bowel scope screening– a test where a thin, flexible tube with a camera at the end is used to look for and remove any polyps inside your bowel. It’s not offered everywhere and it’s a one off test, so if you are invited, you’ll only be invited once. It is offered to people who are aged between 55 and 60.
- home testing kit (the FOB test) – a kit you use to collect small samples of your poo and post them to a laboratory so they can be checked for tiny amounts of blood (which could be caused by cancer). The test is sent to people every two years from the age of 60 up to 74. If you’re 75 or over, you can ask for a home testing kit every 2 years by calling the free bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60. You can also call the helpline if you have any questions or worries about the kit or the screening process.
If you’re too young for screening but are worried about a family history of bowel cancer, speak to your GP for advice. Always see a GP if you have symptoms of bower cancer at any age – don’t wait to have a screening test.