April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month. Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer in women and the third most common in men (1) with some 36,000 cases diagnosed each year in the UK.
Spire Leicester Hospital is working to raise awareness of the disease in conjunction with the bowel cancer advisory service, who have a dedicated phone service to provide information and advice.
Mr Sanjay Chaudhri, Consultant General Surgeon at Spire Leicester Hospital comments “early diagnosis is key to good outcomes as 5 year cure rates for bowel cancer in the earliest stages are 90% and drop to under 10% if the cancer has spread to other organs"
Rectal cancer is a malignancy of the rectum which is the last 15cm (6 in) of the bowel just above the back passage (anus). It accounts for a third of all bowel cancers.
Who gets it?
Bowel cancer can affect people of any age but 80% of bowel cancers detected are in people over 60.(2)
What to look out for:
- a change in your bowel habits lasting four weeks or more
- blood in your faeces or bleeding from your bottom
- unexplained tiredness
- unexplained weight loss
- abdominal pain
- a lump in your abdomen (3)
- feeling like you cannot empty your bowels properly.
Bowel, or colorectal cancer can take between five and ten years to develop and can be found anywhere in the bowel or rectum and can often present no or minimal symptoms.
Many bowel cancers begin as polyps or small growths, which are often non-cancerous and can generally be removed easily. However, depending on how long they are left they can become cancerous. Often, bowel cancer can spread to other parts of the body, including the liver.
Spire Leicester Hospital offers consultations, investigations and treatment (including laproscopic surgery) for colorectal cancer.
For more information on bowel cancer, please visit www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk/ or call the bowel cancer advisory service on 0800 8 40 35 40.
1 Cancer Research UK, 2009
2 Cancer Research UK, 2009, Bowel Cancer at a Glance