What do you know about bowel cancer?

What do you know about bowel cancer?

Lynda Bellingham sadly passed away yesterday in her husbands arms after a long battle with bowel cancer

She had been undergoing chemotherapy but said the time had come to “cease and desist” against the terminal illness.

The 66 year old had been battling bowel cancer, also called colon cancer, for more than a year and it had spread to her lungs and liver.

It is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in the UK, with around 40,000 new cases every year, according to the NHS.

Deborah Alsina, Chief Executive, Bowel Cancer UK said:

"At Bowel Cancer UK, we were all saddened to hear of the news of Lynda Bellingham’s death from advanced bowel cancer.

“But unfortunately it’s all too common.  Bowel cancer is the UK’s second biggest cancer killer and that’s why we launched our Time for Guts campaign to improve survival rates and support for people with advanced bowel cancer, in an urgent bid to save more lives. Every year 41,500 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer which equates to a diagnosis every 15 minutes and around 16,000 people die of the disease.

“A diagnosis of incurable cancer obviously has a huge impact on the patient but also their family and friends, which is often underestimated.

“People deal with their diagnosis in different ways but it can have physical, psychological, and emotional effects, as well as causing financial and relationship issues.  Therefore access to holistic support and care which is tailored to meet the needs of all those affected is essential.   Some patients and their families also find it helpful to meet others in the same situation.

“Access to best treatment and care is critical and currently in the UK that can be patchy.  Some people are dying early because of late diagnosis and variations in treatment and care. This must be addressed urgently.”

To help raise awareness Mr Mark George, Consultant Colorectal and General Surgeon at London Bridge Hospital enlightens us on the key symptoms to watch out for and his top tips to reduce our risk factors.

Are there any lifestyle factors which are commonly associated with bowel cancer?

The incidence of bowel cancer is highest in populations with a ‘westernised’ diet, which in turn is more associated with obesity and lack of exercise.  Red and processed meats within the diet are associated with increased rates of bowel cancer, but fibre, particularly whole grain, reduces the risk of bowel cancer.

What are your top five tips for reducing your chance of developing bowel cancer?

  1. Good high fibre diet
  2. Regular exercise
  3. Do not take too much red or processed meat
  4. Avoid getting overweight
  5. Participate in a bowel cancer screening program

What are the main symptoms of bowel cancer?

Bleeding from the rectum is a key symptom of bowel cancer, particularly if the blood is dark – this represents a more worrying picture than bright blood. Any change in bowel habits can also suggest an increased risk, so it is important to be aware of any change in either the frequency or the consistency of the motions. It is natural for bowel habits to vary from time to time, but increasing bowel frequency for longer than 4-6 weeks in particular, should be discussed with a doctor.

Coliky abdominal pain is also a symptom of bowel cancer, especially if it persists and has an affect on your appetite.

As bowel tumours can cause bleeding, cancer of the bowel often causes a shortage of red blood cells, resulting in anaemia. This is most likely to be recognised by tiredness and occasionally breathlessness.

Other key symptoms include unexplained, significant weight loss.

How is bowel cancer normally diagnosed? 

Bowel cancer is normally diagnosed by performing a colonoscopy (a camera inspection of the bowel) or CT cologram (virtual colonoscopy).

How does the screening process work? 

In England all men and women between 60-69 are sent a stool testing kit (faecal occult blood test) every 2 years. This is designed to detect tiny amounts of blood within the stool.  If an abnormal result is found the test is repeated and if still abnormal a colonscopy is offered.

by for www.femalefirst.co.uk
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