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Diagnosing, fundraising and fighting bowel cancer this April

01 April 2018

What's it all about?

  • April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month.
  • Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital announces Bowel Cancer UK and Beating Bowel Cancer as its inaugural charity of the year.
  • The hospital will donate £100 for every patient who undergoes or books a bowel examination this April.

Did you know?

  • Bowel cancer is the UK’s second biggest cancer killer and the fourth most common cancer.
  • It is treatable and curable if diagnosed early enough.
  • One in 14 men and one in 19 women will be diagnosed with bowel cancer during their lifetime.

These three facts should be enough for everyone to look closely at any symptoms they might have and go to their GP if they are at all worried.

Matron, Sara Morgan from Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital said: “An early diagnosis really does save lives, we are delighted to be supporting Bowel Cancer UK and Beating Bowel Cancer in raising awareness of bowel cancer symptoms and the need for screening. Not only that, but as it is our charity of the year, we are also raising money for them by donating £100 for every flexible sigmoidoscopy, bowel scope test, booked during April.”

Mr Richard Miller, consultant colorectal and general surgeon explains the importance of the new unit at Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital. He is part of the Cambridge Bowel Clinic, a group of four colorectal surgeons (www.cambridgebowelclinic.co.uk).

“I have managed nearly 30,000 out-patients, investigated their symptoms and managed their diagnosis. I can therefore call on a huge amount of experience and knowledge to help patients visiting this hospital. Early detection of bowel cancer is crucial to successful treatment. Patients who have a change in bowel habit that lasts for four weeks or more and/or blood in poo should seek medical advice. Both are warning signs and require investigation.

“Other signs include unexplained weight loss, anaemia, which can make you feel tired for no obvious reason, stomach pains or a lump in the stomach. Your first stop is your GP who, after an initial examination, will send patients with bowel symptoms to be assessed in clinic by a colorectal surgeon. Endoscopy, looking into the colon with a fibre-optic telescope, is the key investigation. It has been shown to make a huge impact on early diagnosis of bowel cancer which in turn has a dramatic effect on cancer survival. It also allows the surgeon to find and remove polyps which over many years can turn into cancer.

“The most recent figure show bowel cancer claims the lives of around 16,000 people in the UK every year so Bowel Cancer Awareness Month is a good time to let people know there is something they can do about it.”

Fact about the disease

  • It is a common cancer.
  • An early diagnosis has a huge benefit in terms of survival.
  • Often there are no symptoms so screening for it, and polyps, is essential.
  • Anyone over 55 should consider screening, particularly if there is another member of the family with bowel cancer.

Whilst there are screening programs already running in the UK, involving home tests which look for hidden blood in poo, these don’t normally start until the age of 60 (50 in Scotland), so it is important to keep an eye on any symptoms as well for yourself.

Bowel endoscopy testing is also gradually being introduced in England for all men and women over 55. This involves using a thin, flexible tube with a camera on the end (flexible sigmoidoscopy) to look inside the lower part of your bowel and your back passage (rectum). The test looks for, and removes, any non-cancerous growths (polyps) that could develop into cancer over time.

Bowel scope screening might also be used for people in high risk groups such as:

  • A strong family history of bowel cancer, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
  • A known genetic abnormality (Lynch syndrome or familial polyposis)

If in doubt, go and see your GP or a bowel specialist (colorectal surgeon or gastroenterologist).

 

References 

1. A dontation will be made for flexi sigmoidoscopy carried out this April or booked in April at the hospital.

2. Office for National Statistics

3. Cancer Research UK 

 

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