Spot bowel cancer early, save lives

Spotting the signs of bowel cancer could save your life, according to health bosses in Newham.

April was Bowel Cancer Awareness Month. NHS North East London and the City is encouraging people to look out for the signs of bowel cancer.

The signs of bowel cancer can include blood in your motions/stool (poo) or your poo being looser than usual. Other bowel cancer symptoms may include a pain or lump in your tummy, feeling more tired than usual for some time, or losing weight for no obvious reason.

Dr Ian Basnett, a medical director from NHS North East London and the City, said: “If you have any of these symptoms for three weeks or more please call your GP practice and make an appointment. These symptoms can be due to lots of other conditions, so having these symptoms does not mean that you have bowel cancer. However it is better to find out and get treated early.”

The risk of developing bowel cancer increases with age. Most people with bowel cancer are over 60 years old.

Dr Basnett said: “Older people may feel reluctant to see a doctor or they may dismiss possible cancer symptoms as part of old age. Nine out of ten people can survive bowel cancer if it is found early.”

This month, the ‘Small c Campaign’ in east London will encourage local people to get to know the symptoms of bowel cancer and see their GP promptly if they notice any.

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A bowel cancer screening test is available free from the NHS for people aged between 60 and 69. The test can detect bowel cancer very early, in people without symptoms. It works by detecting tiny amounts of blood in the poo which cannot normally be seen.

People over 60 can get more information and a test kit by calling free phone 0800 707 6060. People over 69 years can also request a free kit.