April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, and health professionals across West Sussex are asking everyone to talk about bowel cancer and to make sure people take up the offer to be screened.
Bowel cancer is the UK’s second biggest cause of cancer deaths and claims more than 15,000 lives a year.
But bowel cancer is treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early.
Early detection and treatment can remove the cancer and figures released by Cancer Research UK revealed nine out of ten people could survive for more than five years if bowel cancer is spotted at its earliest stage, however, this drops significantly as the disease develops.
The best way to get diagnosed early is to take part in bowel screening.
Screening can detect bowel cancer early before any symptoms appear, when it is easier to treat.
It can also prevent bowel cancer from developing in the first place by picking up non-cancerous growths (polyps) which could become cancerous in the future.
The screening itself is a very simple test and it saves lives but at the moment in some areas of the UK only a third of those who receive a test in the post complete it.
As a result, thousands of people are missing out on the best way to detect bowel cancer early when it is easier to treat and there is the greatest chance of survival.
Screening is available every two years for all men and women aged from 60 to 74. You don’t have to register and you will simply receive a test in the post.
The test can be carried out at home and you will usually get the results in about two weeks.
Most people will have a normal result, and if this happens, you will receive a test again in two years but asked to see your GP if you have any symptoms in the meantime.
If the results aren’t clear, you might be asked to do the test again, or you may be offered more tests to take a closer look at what might be causing this. Either way you will be supported through this process.
Whatever your age, if you have any symptoms you are worried about, please speak to your GP.
Key symptoms include a change in your bowel habits that lasts for three weeks or more and blood in your faeces, and these should be acted upon as soon as possible.
Just remember you’ll not be wasting anyone’s time by getting checked out.
If you have any questions or concerns, please speak to your GP or practice team.
You can also find out more about the national bowel screening programme online on the NHS Choices website or call the NHS bowel screening hotline on 0800 707 60 60.
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