Bowel Cancer Awareness Month
April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) and therefore we wanted to share symptoms and causes in order help raise awareness and reduce the number of sufferers.
Bowel Cancer is the second biggest cancer killer. However, if diagnosed early, bowel cancer is both treatable and curable, meaning that an early diagnosis really can save lives.
There are a couple of key symptoms of bowel cancer to be aware of. If you have any of the below symptoms, try not to worry as they are also common from other causes. It is always best to speak to your GP who can advise and diagnose you accurately.
The symptoms are
- Bleeding from your bottom or blood in your stool
- Weight loss
- Persistent change in your bowel habit, for example, loose stools
- A pain or lump in your stomach
There are similarities between IBS and Bowel Cancer and it can often be hard to differentiate between the two. As aforementioned, it is always best to speak to your healthcare professional to be sure what is causing your symptoms.
The symptoms of IBS are:
- Abdominal cramping that is relieved with bowel movements
- Alternating between diarrhoea and constipation
- Loss of appetite
The NHS have a useful Bowel Cancer Symptom checker which also provides advice on what may be causing your symptoms.
You are most at risk if you are:
- Over the age of 60
- Drinking a high level of alcohol consumption
- A smoker
- A child of someone who also had bowel cancer
There are some things that you can do to reduce the risk:
- Get screened. If you think the symptoms relate to you make sure you visit your GP. Early diagnosis can save lives.
- Get your 5 a day. A diet high in fibre has been shown to reduce inflammation and constipation.
- Get active! Engaging in regular physical activity can reduce the risk of bowel cancer.
- Some research suggests cutting down your consumption of red and processed meat can help
- Try and quit smoking
- Drink alcohol in moderation
- Learn your family history. Bowel Cancer can often be hereditary so try and find out if any of your relatives had bowel cancer or polyps and at what age they were diagnosed.
From more information about Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and how you can get involved visit Bowel Cancer UK.