Bowel Cancer Awareness Month (April 2020)

Southall Medical Centre regularly engages with awareness days and campaigns throughout the year to encourage good health promotion among our patients.

The campaign we are celebrating this month is:

Bowel Cancer Awareness Month (April 2020)

(Image of noticeboard in the patient waiting area)

1. What are we doing at Southall Medical Centre?

Over the month of April, we are going to be raising awareness about bowel cancer through our patient noticeboards, leaflets and waiting room TV screens.

We hope that over the 4 weeks, we encourage people to look out for the symptoms of bowel cancer and help increase our bowel cancer screening uptake rates.

 

2. What is the bowel?

The bowel is part of the digestive system. It is made up of the small bowel (small intestine) and the large bowel (colon and rectum). The small bowel is longer than the large bowel but it gets its name from the fact it is much narrower than the large bowel.

Cancer is more likely to develop in the large bowel. Small bowel cancer is much less common.

 

3. What are the symptoms of bowel cancer?

Bowel cancer is very treatable but the earlier it’s 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.

  • 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

Most people with these symptoms don’t have bowel cancer. Other health problems can cause similar symptoms. But if you have one or more of these, or if things just don’t feel right, go to see your GP.

 

4. What are the risk factors of bowel cancer?

We don’t know what causes most bowel cancers, but we do know that some factors increase your risk of getting the disease. Some of these are things you can’t do anything about, for example, age and genetics. But you can make changes to your lifestyle to lower your risk of getting bowel cancer.

You are more at risk of getting bowel cancer if you have one or more of the following risk factors. This doesn’t mean that you will definitely get bowel cancer. Equally, if you don’t have any risk factors, it doesn’t mean you can’t get bowel cancer.

  • Aged over 50
  • A strong family history of bowel cancer
  • A history of non-cancerous growths (polyps) in your bowel
  • Longstanding inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • An unhealthy lifestyle

 

5. What is bowel cancer screening?

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland people over the age of 60 are invited to take part in bowel cancer screening. In Scotland, screening starts from age 50. You will be invited to take part in screening every two years until you reach the age of 75.

Each of the screening programmes in the UK use home tests, which look for hidden blood in poo. If you are registered with a GP and within the eligible screening age range, a test will be automatically posted to you, so you can complete it in the privacy of your own home.

Bowel cancer screening can save lives. Screening aims to detect bowel cancer at an early stage, when treatment has the best chance of working. The test can also find polyps (non-cancerous growths), which might develop into cancer. Polyps can usually be removed, to lower the risk of bowel cancer.

 

6. Useful websites and support services

For more information about bowel cancer, please click the link below from the Bowel Cancer UK charity to access various support services:

https://www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk/about-bowel-cancer/useful-websites/