Bowel Cancer Screening Can Save Lives

Bowel Cancer Screening Can Save Lives

When 75 year old Peter noticed fresh red blood on the toilet paper when wiping, he assumed he had hemorrhoids, a condition thought to affect somewhere between 13-36% of adults in the UK, and a common cause of rectal bleeding. His GP thought the same, and did not refer him for any investigations.

It was another 12 months before Peter returned to his GP to report worsening symptoms of rectal blood loss, along with stomach cramps, before a referral to a colorectal surgeon was made; Peter was diagnosed with bowel cancer within 2 weeks of referral, and underwent surgery to remove the tumour. Fortunately, the delay in the diagnosis of his tumour had no longer term consequences for Peter, and he was successful in his claim for compensation, recovering £15,000 in damages for the unpleasant symptoms he suffered over that 12 month period.

Bowel cancer is also called colorectal cancer. It affects the large bowel, which is made up of the colon and rectum. Most bowel cancers develop from pre-cancerous growths, called polyps. But not all polyps develop into cancer, and once detected they can be removed to prevent them becoming cancerous cells may stay in the bowel or they might spread to other parts of the body, like the liver or lungs.

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK, after breast, prostate and lung cancers.

Over 41,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in the UK. More than nine out of ten new cases (94%) are diagnosed in people over the age of 50, and nearly six out of ten cases (58%) are diagnosed in people aged 70 or over. But bowel cancer can affect any age. More than 2,400 new cases are diagnosed each year in people under the age of 50. 1 in 14 men (7%) and 1 in 19 women (5%) will be diagnosed with bowel cancer during their lifetime. Around 290,000 people living in the UK today have been diagnosed with bowel cancer.

Bowel cancer is treatable and curable, especially if it’s diagnosed early. More than nine out of ten people diagnosed with stage 1 bowel cancer survive five years or more after diagnosis. However this drops significantly as the disease develops.

There is only a small chance that bowel cancer will come back after five years. Almost 16,000 people die from bowel cancer in the UK every year. It is the second most common cause of cancer death in the UK, behind lung cancer.

Bowel cancer screening can save lives. If bowel cancer is found early, it is easier to treat. Screening may also pick up non-cancerous growths (polyps), which could become cancerous in the future. Bowel cancer is treatable and curable, especially if it’s diagnosed early. Nearly everyone diagnosed at the earliest stage will survive bowel cancer. Taking part in bowel cancer screening is the best way to get diagnosed early. Bowel cancer screening programs in England, Wales and Northern Ireland invite people over the age of 60 to take part in screening. Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in the UK but it shouldn’t be. Bowel cancer is treatable and curable especially if diagnosed early enough.

Bowel Cancer UK is the UK’s leading bowel cancer research charity, working to save lives and improve the quality of life for all those affected by bowel cancer. Having just enjoyed (or endured) ‘Movember’, where men up and down the land have cultivated moustaches during the month of November to raise awareness of men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer and men’s suicide, it is now the turn of Bowel Cancer UK to invite brothers, sons, nephews, grandads, and uncles to participate in ‘Decembeard’ by growing a beard throughout December and raise money to support research and lifesaving work to stop bowel cancer. The rules are simple, just clean shave on 30 November and let your facial hair flourish throughout December. For those already bearded (Father Christmas, take note), the charity says ditch or dye your beard for December and get sponsored to sport a new look for the month.

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