2 April 2015
During Bowel Cancer Awareness month this April, Macmillan Cancer Support are urging more people across Birmingham and Solihull to take up free bowel screening.
Each year around 685 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer across Birmingham and Solihull.Regular bowel screening has been shown to avoid one in six colorectal cancer deaths, but uptake amongst those offered screening is too low with only 54% completing screening in the first two years of the NHS bowel screening program.
Michelle Coakes, Macmillan Colorectal Cancer Nurse Specialist at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham is supporting the call, saying; ‘Screening can find bowel cancer at an early stage, when it has the best chance of being treated so it’s concerning that so many people aren’t taking up the offer. People are sometimes put off because they feel embarrassed or worried but it’s important to remember that taking the screening test could help save your life.’
‘Awareness of the symptoms can also aid early detection. These may include changes in your usual bowel movements that last for six weeks or longer, bleeding from your bottom or in your stools, pain or a lump in the abdomen and unexplained weight loss or extreme tiredness.’
‘Although these symptoms are often caused by other less serious conditions than bowel cancer, it’s important to talk to your GP if you experience them so they can be checked out. One of the difficulties with bowel cancer is often there can be no symptoms until the disease is fairly advanced, which is again why screening is so important.’
Bowel cancer is more common in older people, with 8 out of 10 (80%) bowel cancer diagnoses being given to people over 60. The NHS bowel cancer screening program was first introduced in England in 2006 and is offered to those within the 60-69 year old age bracket.
If you have questions about bowel cancer, or are worried about your symptoms, call Macmillan on 0800 808 00 00 or visit www.macmillan.org.uk.