Bowel cancer awareness month

01 April 2015

Have you noticed a change in your bowel habits? If so speak to your GP today, early diagnosis can save your life.

These are the most commons symptoms of bowel cancer:

  • Persistent bleeding from your rectum
  • Blood in your stool or change in bowel habit
  • Extreme unexplained weight loss or stomach pain

Bowel cancer is the third most common form of cancer. In the UK, 35,000 new cases are found each year and 17,000 people die from the condition annually.

What is bowel cancer?
Many colon cancers arise from polyps in the colon and some may become cancerous over a period of time. Most of the time, the diagnosis of localised colon cancer is through a colonoscopy. If cancer is detected treatment is usually followed by surgery, then several courses of chemotherapy. Rectal cancer is now more commonly treated by radiotherapy and then surgery, followed by chemotherapy.

Keyhole surgery is now more commonly available as a strategy in the surgical treatment of colorectal cancer.

What is keyhole surgery?
In the last five years, keyhole surgery has enabled patients diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer to undergo surgery using minimally invasive techniques usually carried out by a consultant general surgeon.

Every operation obviously carries a small complication risk. However, more complex procedures may only be performed by those surgeons who have specific training in advanced keyhole surgery, such as hernia surgery, anti-reflux surgery and treatment of colorectal cancer.

Am I at risk?
If you suffer from persistent rectal bleeding and/or a persistent change in frequency of bowel habit, then you should seek advice from your doctor. Those who have parents, siblings or children with risk factors – such as polyps of the colon – should undergo regular screening, via colonoscopy (a fibre-optic telescopic assessment of the colon). Your GP will discuss any results with you and suggest treatments plans if needed.

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