Early diagnosis of bowel cancer saves lives - what to look out for

Know the symptoms and go to your doctor if you are concerned. Picture: Richard Wyatt

Know the symptoms and go to your doctor if you are concerned. Picture: Richard Wyatt - Credit: Richard Wyatt

GPs in Redbridge are backing a campaign to highlight the importance of bowel cancer screening – stressing that early diagnosis is crucial to saving lives.

Bowel cancer is one of the most common cancers in the UK but nearly everyone diagnosed with it at the earliest stage survives it. Despite this, it is the second biggest cause of cancer deaths in the UK – West Ham and England football legend Bobby Moore died of bowel cancer – proving early diagnosis and treatment can be vital.

April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and people in Redbridge are being urged to be aware of the key symptoms – and visit their GP if things don’t feel right.

Doing so can help increase the chances of an early diagnosis.

Symptoms of bowel cancer include:

Bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo

A persistent and unexplained change in bowel habit

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Unexplained weight loss

Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason

A pain or lump in your tummy.

If you have one or more of these, make an appointment to see your GP. It may be nothing to worry about but getting checked will put your mind at rest.

There are several ways you can reduce your risk of developing bowel cancer in the first place.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle – including cutting down on red meat and processed foods – eating more fibre and staying active will mean you are less likely to develop bowel cancer, as will quitting smoking and cutting down on alcohol.

Bowel cancer can affect people of any age but most of those diagnosed are aged over 50 and almost 60per cent are 70 or over. In Redbridge, only 47.8pc of people aged 60-74 attend bowel cancer screening, which is below the national average (59pc).

Dr Anil Mehta, a local GP and chairman of NHS Redbridge Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “Early diagnosis of bowel cancer dramatically increases the survival rate and is therefore crucial to saving lives.

“If you are over 55, you should take advantage of the screening options available to you but whatever your age you need to visit a GP if you have any of the symptoms.”