24th April 2009
Each year, about 36,500 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer – equal to 100 people every day. It is the second most common cancer in women and the third most common amongst men . In Scotland, bowel cancer is the third most common cancer with over 3,000 people diagnosed each year.
This month is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and Spire Murrayfield hospital is raising awareness of this disease, which can often present no or minimal symptoms.
Bowel, or colorectal cancer can take between five and ten years to develop and can be found anywhere in the colon or rectum. Many bowel cancers begin as polyps or small growths, which are often non-malignant and can generally be removed easily. However, depending on how long they are left they can become malignant. Bowel cancer can spread to the liver, lungs and lymph nodes. Eight out of ten cases of bowel cancer are diagnosed in people over 60 .
Mr David Bartolo, consultant colorectal surgeon at Spire Murrayfield hospital comments:“The biggest problem with bowel cancer is that the symptoms can easily be mistaken for other conditions such as haemorrhoids or IBS. Unfortunately, because of this tumours are often diagnosed later in their development, meaning that surgery and chemotherapy are often the only available treatment options. Early identification is key, so if there is anything out of the ordinary, it is much better to be safe than sorry and visit your GP for onward referral. The diagnosis can then be made by having a colonoscopy.”
Top tips for spotting the symptoms of bowel cancer:
- A change in your normal bowel habit lasting four weeks or more
- Bleeding from the bottom and/or blood in your stools
- Extreme tiredness without obvious cause
- A pain and/or lump in your abdomen
For more information on bowel cancer, please visit www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk/ or call the bowel cancer advisory service on 0800 8403540.