25 April 2019 | Firm news | Article by Julie Maiden
April 2019 is Bowel Cancer Awareness month which is aimed at raising awareness of the symptoms and effects of bowel cancer.
Bowel cancer is one of the most common cancers in the UK and the second highest cancer killer, but if diagnosed early it is possible to treat and cure the disease.
Those over the age of 50 or those with a close family history of bowel cancer are most at risk, although it can affect any of us, at any age. There is also some evidence to suggest that some lifestyle choices can increase the risks of the disease, for example, smoking and obesity. Eating processed or red meat is also thought to increase the risks. The results of a study co-funded by Cancer Research UK, which have featured heavily in the news this week, suggest that eating red meat and processed meat, such as bacon and ham, increases the risk if eaten regularly. The same study concludes that the risk of bowel cancer can be reduced by eating foods high in fibre, such as cereals and bread.
What are the symptoms of bowel cancer?
- Bleeding from your back passage or blood in your stool;
- A persistent and unexplained change in bowel habits. For example, loose stools, needing to go to the toilet more often, or if you feel you are not fully emptying your bowels;
- Unexplained weight loss;
- Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
- A pain or lump in your abdomen or back passage;
These symptoms may not be as a result of bowel cancer and could be caused by another condition, but if you experience any of these symptoms, especially if they are present for more than three weeks, you should make an appointment to see your GP for advice. The earlier you see your GP, the sooner you'll be diagnosed and the better chance you'll have of receiving successful treatment, as the earlier it's diagnosed the easier it is to treat.
Diagnosing the disease
Sometimes bowel cancer can be difficult to identify as the symptoms are either not thought to be serious or don't appear until the later stages of the disease.
Your GP will begin by asking you some questions about your general health, your bowel habits, what your symptoms are and when they began. They may also carry out a rectal or abdominal examination and arrange blood tests.
If your GP believes your symptoms are suggestive of bowel cancer or, if they are unsure, they will refer you to hospital for further investigations.
Unfortunately, there are occasions when the early signs of the disease may be missed or misinterpreted and the appropriate referral may not be made, resulting in a failure or delay in you, or a loved one, being diagnosed and receiving treatment.
At Hugh James we have assisted many clients who have suffered either a failure or delay in the diagnosis of bowel cancer. If you believe you or a family member has been affected in this way get in touch for further information.