This year’s focus for Bowel Cancer Awareness Month is on bowel screening. Bowel cancer is the UK’s second biggest cancer killer, but if picked up and diagnosed early can be treated and can be curable. According to stats from Cancer Council Research UK, diagnosing bowel cancer early (Stage 1) leads to a 95% 5-year survival rate. This drops to just 7% survival rate if the cancer is diagnosed at Stage 4.
Currently in the UK, the NHS provides a free bowel screening test kit for those between the ages of 60 and 74 (50 and 74 in Scotland).
However stats show that in some areas of the UK only a third of these screening kits are used, meaning this quick and easy way of identifying a potentially serious issue (when it’s in its infancy and easier to treat), is sadly being missed for thousands of people.
As mentioned earlier, in Scotland the minimum age to receive a bowel screening test kit is 50 years, yet in all other parts of the UK it’s 60 years. The ‘Never Too Young’ campaign by Bowel Cancer UK is a push to give younger patients better access to bowel screening and attempt to try to change clinical practice and policy to allow access to earlier screening.
As part of some of our health screening options here at Healthy Performance, we provide home bowel screening kits for those employees aged over 40 years, or those with a family history of bowel cancer.
Some of the warning signs and symptoms to look out for include:
– Blood in your poo/or bleeding from your bottom
– A change in your bowel habits lasting up to 3 weeks (e.g. more frequent/looser stools)
– Unexplained weight loss
– Feeling fatigued
– Pain or lumps in your stomach
These symptoms can, of course, be caused by other unrelated health problems, but it is still best to visit your GP if things don’t feel right.