Deborah James leaves hospital after bowel cancer surgery
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The NHS explains: “Bowel cancer is a general term for cancer that begins in the large bowel. Depending on where the cancer starts, bowel cancer is sometimes called colon or rectal cancer.” Bowel Cancer UK says one in 15 men and one in 18 women will be diagnosed with bowel cancer during their lifetime.
The charity says: “If you have any symptoms, don’t be embarrassed and don’t ignore them”. It is very important to get cancer spotted early, as it can help immensely.
Indeed, Bowel Cancer UK says bowel cancer is treatable and curable “especially if diagnosed early”.
Sadly, survival rates drop as the disease develops, so the charity says “early diagnosis really does save lives”.
Cancer Treatment Centres of America says that most cancers in the colon or rectum develop from polyp.
The organisation says if early-stage colorectal cancer does cause symptoms, early warning signs may include sudden weight loss or narrow, ribbon-like stools.
It states other common early warning signs of colorectal cancer include rectal bleeding, either bright or dark red in colour, and tenesmus, which is the feeling that you have to empty your bowel but nothing passes.
Other signs include anaemia caused by iron deficiency, persistent abdominal pain, and unexplained weight loss.
The organisation says: “Although these symptoms may be caused by other, less serious conditions, such as haemorrhoids, ulcers and Crohn’s disease, they should be discussed with a doctor.”
It adds: “Blood in the stool, even if it only appears intermittently, should never be ignored.”
Cancer Research UK outlines a number of potential signs, many of which may show up when you go to the toilet.
In both men and women, symptoms can include blood in your poo or a change in your normal bowel habit. These might be looser poo, pooing more often, or constipation.
It adds that signs include a lump that your doctor can feel in your back passage or tummy, or a feeling of needing to strain in your back passage, as if you need to poo, even after opening your bowels.
Cancer Research says “your doctor won’t think you are wasting their time” and you should always tell your medical professional about symptoms.
The exact cause of bowel cancer is not known, but there are a number of things that can increase your risk.
The NHS says that smoking may increase your chances of getting bowel cancer, and that bowel cancer is more common in overweight or obese people.
The health body adds: ”Some people also have an increased risk of bowel cancer because they’ve had another condition, such as extensive ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease in the colon for more than 10 years.”
Although it is very difficult to research the link between diet and cancer, studies have shown certain foods can definitely affect the risk of bowel cancer. The Government recommends that people eating more than 90g of red and processed meat a day should reduce it to 70g or less.
According to Cancer Research UK, a linked risk factor is obesity. “It is estimated that 11 out of 100 bowel cancers (11 percent) in the UK are linked to being overweight or obese.”
To detect cases of bowel cancer, everyone aged 60 to 74 who is registered with a GP and lives in England should automatically be sent a bowel cancer screening home test kit every two years.
Each of the bowel cancer screening programmes in the UK use home tests called the Faecal Immunochemical Test, which looks for blood in poo.
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