April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, and to mark the start, charity Bowel Cancer UK revealed that 38% of adults in Scotland are unaware of bowel cancer symptoms.
These statistics are made more surprising given its status as the country’s second largest cancer killer.
People were unaware of the five main symptoms:
Abdominal pain (14%)
Blood from bottom or stools (29%)
Weight loss (11%)
Bowl habit changes (8%)
Unexplained tiredness/fatigue (3%)
Genevieve Edwards, Chief Executive at Bowel Cancer UK, says: “If you notice any signs of bowel cancer, or if things just don’t feel quite right, please visit your GP.” An awareness of the key symptoms and visiting your GP if you any of them, is crucial towards increasing the likelihood of an early diagnosis.
Bowel cancer is treatable and curable, and an early diagnosis especially helps this. Catching it early has been shown to save lives, yet only around 15% of people gain an early diagnosis.
Genevieve also highlights that over 50s are generally more affected but reminds us that around 2,500 under 50s annually are diagnosed with bowel cancer. She emphasizes people of all ages should seek advice if they’re worried.
The current situation’s ‘stay at home’ message has unfortunately discouraged some from seeking help from the NHS, amidst fears of catching COVID-19 or burdening their GP. However, it is vital that people contact their GP over any concerns.
Support groups are also effective in offering solace for those affected by cancer. Maggie’s is a local charity, with many support groups in Scotland. Their website has a search tool for finding the closest group. Tayside Cancer Support are in the process of setting up groups in Dundee and Perth. Both support services offer one-to-one support or group sessions.
Bowel Cancer Awareness Month is a key opportunity to find out more. Join the charity’s Facebook Live, which will last around 30 minutes, on Friday 16th April at 12:30pm to learn more about the symptoms, the importance of the bowel cancer screening programmes, and how to reduce risk of the disease: www.facebook.com/bowelcanceruk
To find out more about Maggie’s: https://www.maggies.org/cancer-support/our-support/our-support-groups/
To find out more about Tayside Cancer Support: https://www.taysidecancersupport.org/
To find out more about bowel cancer, visit Bowel Cancer UK’s website: www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk