A consultant in colorectal surgery at NCIC has spoken about the symptoms of bowel cancer and what you can do if you are worried.

Mohammed Edilbe spoke about common symptoms during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month.

Mohammed Edilbe - thumbnail.pngDr Edilbe said: “The symptoms vary from one patient to another, depending on the location of the tumour and the stage of the disease. These symptoms include change in bowel habits, feeling of incomplete evacuation, urgency, blood in the stool, abdominal pain, weight loss abdominal or anal mass and Iron deficiency anaemia.

“All bowel cancers if left untreated will eventually spread most commonly to the liver and lungs.

“The incidence of bowel cancer increases with advancing age however bowel cancer can happen at an early age especially if there is a strong family history of it.”

Dr Edilbe has some advice for anyone who is worried: “Please get in touch with your GP if you have any bowel symptoms. Your GP will arrange an initial stool test to detect if there are traces of blood in your stool (FIT). If it comes back positive then the GP will refer you to have a camera examination of your bowel (colonoscopy) or to see a colorectal surgeon in the hospital.”

April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, it’s an opportunity to raise awareness of the fourth most common cancer in the UK. Every 15 minutes someone is diagnosed with the disease, that’s nearly 43,000 people each year.

Bowel cancer is also the UK’s second biggest cancer killer, however it shouldn’t be because it’s treatable and curable especially if diagnosed early. Nearly everyone survives bowel cancer if diagnosed at the earliest stage but this drops significantly as the disease develops. Early diagnosis really does save lives.

NCIC is supporting Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and Bowel Cancer UK, the UK’s bowel cancer charity, to raise awareness of the symptoms of bowel cancer

Risk factors

Although the exact cause of bowel cancer is unknown, there are certain factors that may increase your risk.

  • You may be more at risk of developing bowel cancer if:
  • You are over 50
  • You have a significant family history of bowel cancer
  • You have polyps in your bowel
  • You have longstanding inflammatory bowel disease e.g. Crohn's disease or colitis
  • You have Type 2 diabetes

You can reduce your risk by:

  • Cutting down on red and processed meats
  • Keeping to a healthy weight and exercise regularly
  • Eating at least 5 portions of fruit and veg every day
  • Stop smoking
  • Consuming no more than 14 units of alcohol per week for women, 21 for men
  • Taking part in bowel screening when invited

For more information about bowel cancer and details of how to get involved in Bowel Cancer Awareness Month visit bowelcanceruk.org.uk