A citywide campaign to encourage people to take up their bowel cancer test is being delivered by Leeds City Council and the NHS as part of bowel cancer awareness month.
The cancer is one of the UK’s most common cancer killers and one in five people who develop bowel cancer are aged 60 and over. The aim is to ensure more people can make sure they are clear of the cancer, or catch it early and get appropriate treatment by increasing awareness and take up of the screening and testing.
Councillor Lisa Mulherin, Chair of Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board, said:
“We know response rates to the screening test are lower than they should be. We’re determined to play our part in tackling this potential killer, and the simple test is key to doing that. We all know that lots of people want to avoid bad news and it isn’t the nicest subject to talk about. But the alternatives are worse, so it is a great chance to reassure yourself.”
Dr Ian Cameron, Leeds City Council’s Director of Public Health, said:
“With around 40,000 new cases diagnosed every year, bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in the UK. Around one in 20 of us will develop bowel cancer, so it really is something to watch out for.
“Screening plays an important part in the fight against bowel cancer because it can help the illness before it causes obvious symptoms, which increases the chances of surviving the condition.”
Mr Hussain from Beeston was diagnosed with bowel cancer of the small intestine back in 2010. He first started to worry something was wrong when he experienced loss of weight and appetite, black stools, as well as ‘not feeling right in himself’.
His father had also died of bowel cancer so Mr Hussain went straight to his doctor and was diagnosed as having stage one bowel cancer. He underwent surgery and is now clear of the cancer. Mr Hussain said:
“The doctors did a great job in helping me through my recovery and I was fortunate to be diagnosed early. If you are given the chance to take the test, do – it’s really important. You may not think it is nice but the test could save your life.
“While the emphasis is on people over 60, if you are younger and are experiencing any of the symptoms I was, then to see your GP immediately.”
Most people who are eventually diagnosed with bowel cancer have one of the following symptom combinations:
• a persistent change in bowel habit causing them to go to the toilet more often and pass looser stools, usually together with blood on or in their stools
• a persistent change in bowel habit without blood in their stools, but with abdominal pain
• blood in the stools without other haemorrhoid symptoms such as soreness, discomfort, pain, itching or a lump hanging down outside the back passage
• abdominal pain, discomfort or bloating always provoked by eating, sometimes resulting in a reduction in the amount of food eaten and weight loss
The symptoms of bowel cancer can be subtle and don’t necessarily make you feel ill.
Friday 17th April is also ‘Football Shirt Friday ‘ – an awareness and fund raising day supported by the Bobby Moore Fund targeting bowel cancer.
More information about bowel cancer testing and treatment is available at: www.leeds.gov.uk/bowelcancer or http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Cancer-of-the-colon-rectum-or-bowel/Pages/Introduction.aspx
More information about Football Shirt Friday is at: http://bobbymoorefund.cancerresearchuk.org/get-involved/football-shirt-friday/
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