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Don't die of embarrassment: Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

Tori_ScopeTori_Scope Posts: 4,033

Scope community team

April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month. Bowel issues are often seen as taboo or embarrassing to talk about, but it's really important that you look after your bowel health, and stay vigilant in looking out for signs of trouble.

In an interview we did with an NHS Bowel Screening Coordinator, we found out that
Statistics show that disabled people are less likely to take part in the bowel cancer screening programme, yet screening is vital for the prevention and early detection of many forms of cancer. 

According to Public Health England, bowel cancer is the 4th biggest cause of cancer deaths in the UK, and many of these deaths may have been prevented if the cancer was detected at an early stage. 

It's therefore vital that you're proactive in checking your bowel health. If you're 55 years old, you'll automatically be invited for a one-off bowel scope screening test if it's available in your area. If you're aged 60 to 74 years old, you'll automatically be invited to do a home testing kit every 2 years. If you're 75 or over, you can ask for a home testing kit every 2 years by calling the free bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60.

That being said, you should always go to see your doctor if you're worried about your bowels, regardless of your age.

What to look out for

According to this NHS page on the symptoms of bowel cancer:
More than 90% of people with bowel cancer have 1 of the following combinations of symptoms:
  • a persistent change in bowel habit – pooing more often, with looser, runnier poos and sometimes tummy (abdominal) pain
  • abdominal pain, discomfort or bloating always brought on by eating – sometimes resulting in a reduction in the amount of food eaten and weight loss
In some cases, bowel cancer can stop digestive waste passing through the bowel. This is known as a bowel obstruction.
Symptoms of a bowel obstruction can include:
  • intermittent, and occasionally severe, abdominal pain – this is always bought on by eating
  • unintentional weight loss – with persistent abdominal pain
  • constant swelling of the tummy – with abdominal pain
  • being sick – with constant abdominal swelling
A bowel obstruction is a medical emergency. If you suspect your bowel is obstructed go to the accident and emergency (A&E) department of your nearest hospital.

Have you attended your free bowel cancer screening? Do you have any worries about getting screened for bowel cancer? Have you found the bowel cancer screening process accessible? Could you spot the early signs of bowel cancer?

Online Community Coordinator, she/her

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