April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and Medical Specialists
Pharmacy are proud to support a disease that is increasingly affecting people of all ages, despite being commonly looked upon as an ‘old person’s disease’ as previous figures show around 72% of people diagnosed with bowel cancer are over the age of 65.
The aim of Bowel Cancer Awareness Month is clued in its name – to raise awareness about this type of cancer and draw attention to it, help people understand the symptoms of the disease and why it is vital to receive treatment at the earliest possible chance. Each year over 40,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer in the UK, claiming almost 16,000 lives.
Symptoms of Bowel Cancer
Bowel cancer is also known as colorectal or colon cancer, and is the third most prevalent type of cancer in the UK alone. Almost all cases of bowel cancer begin to develop within the large bowel - two-thirds in the colon and one-third in the rectum.
Symptoms include: Blood in your faeces, the appearance of mucus in the faeces, inexplicable weight loss, persistent abdominal pain lasting longer than two weeks, severe constipation or diarrhoea lasting longer than two weeks and tiredness as a result of becoming anaemic from microscopic bleeding from the bowel.
You could experience either one, some, or all of the above symptoms, but some people could experience none at all. Most symptoms will probably not be bowel cancer but if you are worried any of your symptoms are related to the disease, make an appointment to see your doctor immediately.
The Earlier Diagnosed, The Better
Don’t be worried about wasting someone’s time, it is better to get assessed and be at peace of mind than spending time wondering why you are getting the symptoms you are. Even if it should be bowel cancer, the earlier it is spotted through screening, the greater the chances of treatment being able to cure the cancer completely.
Screening for the cancer is conducted by the analysis of a patient’s stool sample for the presence of blood – a faecal occult blood test is used for this.
Over the next three years, patients over the age of 55 will also be able to benefit from an additional screening test that consists of a camera examination of the lower bowel called a flexible sigmoidoscopy.
The fact that statistics show 90% of people who receive treatment for bowel cancer early enough are able to recover shows that a visit to your doctor may just save your life.
The charity Bowel Cancer UK have a detailed list of ways you can get involved with Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and useful information about living with bowel cancer
, including dietary advice such as as what to eat and drink during treatment, and much more.