Don't Flush Away Your Toilet Worries

31 January 2012, 06:00

The goverment have launched their first national campaign to raise awareness of the symptoms of bowel cancer, after a successful trial in places like Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.

Public awareness of the symptoms of bowel cancer is low, but spotting the signs early and getting medical advice could save people's lives.

Bowel cancer affects 33,000 people every year in England with the majority of cases occurring in people over the age of 55. It affects both men and women and is the second biggest cancer killer, responsible for more than 13,000 deaths a year.

Featuring real GP's, the 'Be Clear On Cancer' campaign will encourage people who have had blood i their poo or loose poo for more than three weeks to see their doctor. The new adverts aim to make people aware of the symptoms of bowel cancer and make it easier for them to discuss this with their GP.

If England's bowel cancer survival rates matched the rest of Europe an additional 1,700 lives would be saved every year.

Quearry Foreman Roland Lock, of Ashton, Northamptonshire, was diagnosed with the disease last May, but first noticed the symptoms four months earlier. Fortunately the cancer was treated successfully and Roland is now urging people in a similar position to go to their GP as soon as possible.

''I noticed that there was some blood and mucus in my poo and my bowel habits changed," he said.

"Instead of going once a day I was going four or five times during the course of the morning and I had terrible cramps. I thought it was piles to start with as people in my job are prone to that but the stomach cramps were getting worse.

''At the back of my mind I had the thought of bowel cancer as I knew I was at greater risk of it because of my age. I mentioned it to my wife, Claire, and she said I should go to the doctor but you know what men are like. I thought it might go away.

''Of course, it didn't and I know now that I left it too long before I did anything, so I realise I'm lucky that my diagnosis was in time. Some people might not like talking about their bowels but the doctors have heard it all before.

"There's nothing to be embarrassed about. I talk to the lads at work to make sure they know about it and my advice to anyone with the symptoms I had is to get seen straight away. The sooner the better. Don't leave it to chance and don't leave it too late.''

Dr Saqib Mirza, a GP at Mounts Medical Centre in Northampton, says ''With bowel cancer claiming around 170 lives in Northamptonshire each year, this campaign is instrumental in raising awareness of the early signs and symptoms and potentially saving hundreds of lives.

"I urge anyone who is worried about their symptoms to speak to their GP straight away. The message is clear - the earlier bowel cancer is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat. Your symptoms may be nothing serious, but it is better to have them checked out early to be sure.''

BOWEL CANCER SYMPTOMS

  • Blood in poo for three weeks or more
  • Looser poo for three weeks or more
  • A pain or lump in your tummy
  • Feeling more tired than usual for some time
  • Unexplained weight loss
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