Bowel cancer - don’t sit on your symptoms!

BOWEL cancer kills on average 13 people every the Ballymoney and Moyle areas, figures just released show.

Approximately 23 people are diagnosed and eight die from bowel cancer every year in Ballymoney while there are on average, 13 diagnoses and five deaths in Moyle.

To mark Bowel Cancer Awareness Month this April leading, local cancer charity Action Cancer is encouraging men and women across Northern Ireland to seek advice immediately if they experience any signs and symptoms of the disease.

Bowel cancer is more common in older people with around 80% of bowel cancers occurring in people aged over 602. It is the second most common cancer diagnosed in Northern Ireland and the second most common cause of death from cancer. Although over 1,100 people are diagnosed and 430 die from the disease here every year, with early diagnosis bowel cancer is one of the most treatable cancers.

Geraldine Kerr, Head of Professional Services for Action Cancer said: “If bowel cancer is detected in its earliest stages the individual has more than a 9 in 10 chance of surviving the disease so we want to ensure that the public are aware of the most common early signs and symptoms like having blood in your stools, loose and more frequent bowel movements or pain and swelling in your abdomen for a prolonged length of time.

“It’s important to note that there are many other common conditions with similar symptoms that will affect us at some time in our lives, so most people with these symptoms do not have cancer. But if you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms we would recommend you seek advice from your GP immediately.”

The Northern Ireland Bowel Cancer Screening Programme offers screening every two years to men and women aged 60 to 71. It aims to increase the proportion of cases detected at an early stage of the disease before symptoms develop and when the chance of successful treatment is greatest. Since April 2010 the programme has screened nearly 200,000 participants and detected nearly 200 cancers at an early stage.

People aged 60 – 71 are sent an invitation, information materials and a screening kit so they can do the test at home. Recipients are asked to collect small stool samples on a special card and send the kit to a screening laboratory which checks for tiny traces of blood. The presence of blood in the stool sample indicates that more investigations are needed. The results are issued within two weeks of sending in the test.

For more information about the signs and symptoms of bowel cancer please visit www.actioncancer.org to download the bowel cancer leaflet. To find out more on the Northern Ireland Screening Programme please visit www.cancerscreening.n-i.nhs.uk.

Research shows that regular bowel cancer screening reduces the risk of dying from bowel cancer by 16%.