Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

This month is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness of the symptoms of bowel cancer so that more people suffering from the condition can get an early diagnosis. Here we introduce you to some of the facts about bowel cancer, with details of how you can reduce your risk.

The facts about bowel cancer

  • Bowel cancer can also be referred to as colon cancer
  • As with many forms of cancer, bowel cancer occurs when cells in the bowel multiply and attack the surrounding tissue. As the cancer progresses, this can spread to other parts of the body
  • Bowel cancer is the UK's second biggest cancer killer and the fourth most common type of cancer. Over 40,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year and one person in the UK dies from the disease every thirty minutes
  • Men are at a higher risk of developing bowel cancer than women: one in 14 men and one in 19 women has a lifetime risk of developing bowel cancer. People over 60 are also at a higher risk
  • Bowel cancer is very treatable when diagnosed at an early stage, but unfortunately only nine per cent of sufferers get diagnosed early on

The symptoms

  • A persistent change in bowel habit
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • A lump in your stomach area
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Unexplained tiredness

Most of these symptoms will probably be related to something much less serious, but you should still visit your doctor to get the all clear.

Reduce your risk

There are a number of things you can do to reduce your risk of developing bowel cancer. These include:

  • Eating a healthy diet, with plenty of fruit, vegetables, wholegrain foods and fish
  • Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight
  • Stop smoking
  • Only drink alcohol in moderation
  • Recognise changes in your body and visit your doctor if any abnormalities persist
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