BOWEL cancer is the second deadliest form of the disease in the UK, but for many the warning signs aren’t obvious.
In fact one in three can’t name a single symptom of bowel cancer, which kills nearly 16,000 Brits every year.
Getty – Contributor Many Brits don’t know the warning signs when it comes to bowel cancer – the UK’s second deadliest form of the disease
It comes as BBC journalist Jeremy Bowen revealed he is among those who showed none of the usual red-flag signs before being diagnosed.
The Middle East Editor, 59, is currently having chemotherapy after having undergoing surgery to remove a tumour.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast today, he urged people not to “die of embarrassment” over getting tested.
‘I had no symptoms’
Jeremy said: “I had funny pains in my legs and my back when I was in Iraq last May.
“I went to hospital for a couple of days but they didn’t say it was cancer, they said it was scar tissue from a previous operation.
“I had no symptoms but thought I should get a test, it came back positive.
“I had a colonoscopy, when they put a camera on a stick up your bottom – it’s not nearly as bad as it sounds, and they give you lots of drugs – from that they found a tumour.
“I had an operation to take it away and now I’m going through chemotherapy.
“It’s not the thing you choose but I’m confident that I’m getting very good medical treatment and I’ll be OK.”
Jeremy also said if the cancer had been caught later, it would have been a lot more serious.
He added: “The key thing is to get tested, I’ve told all my friends to get to their doctors for a test.
“Bowels and poo are not the normal things people want to talk about, but actually it’s part of all our lives.
“If you feel a bit embarrassed and you leave it too long – a gastroenterologist tweeted me this morning to say, ‘tell them don’t die of embarrassment, for god’s sake’.”
The broadcaster said he had chosen to go public with his battle at the start of Bowel Cancer Awareness Week to urge people to get tested.
His colleague, BBC newsreader George Alagiah revealed he was once again battling bowel cancer in January 2018 after four years in remission.
George is facing stage 4 cancer which means the disease has spread to other organs.
Fewer than one in ten people survive bowel cancer if it’s picked up at stage 4, but detected quickly, more than nine in ten patients will live five years or longer.
At the moment, Brits are subject to a postcode lottery, with those living in Scotland screened from 50.
SCREENING FROM 50 IS A NO BRAINER – IT COULD SAVE THOUSANDS OF LIVESTHE Sun’s No Time 2 Lose campaign is calling for bowel cancer screening in England to start at 50 NOT 60.
The move could save more than 4,500 lives a year, experts say.
Bowel cancer is the second deadliest form of the disease, but it can be cured if it’s caught early – or better still prevented.
Caught at stage 1 – the earliest stage – patients have a 97 per cent chance of living for five years or longer.
But catch it at stage 4 – when it’s already spread – and that chance plummets to just seven per cent.
In April, Lauren Backler, whose mum died of the disease at the age of 55, joined forces with The Sun to launch the No Time 2 Lose campaign, also supported by Bowel Cancer UK and Beating Bowel Cancer. Donate here.
Lauren delivered a petition to the Department of Health complete with almost 450,000 signatures, to put pressure on the Government to make this vital change – one that could save thousands of lives every year, and the NHS millions.
We all deserve an equal chance to beat this disease, regardless of where we live.
We know bowel cancer is more likely after the age of 50 – so it makes sense to screen from then.
Plus, it’s got to save the NHS money in the long-run, catching the disease before patients need serious and expensive treatments.
It’s a no brainer, thousands of lives are at stake every year.
You can still sign Lauren’s petition to show your support – click HERE to add your signature.
Meanwhile, south of the border in England, and in Wales and Northern Ireland, those tests aren’t offered until 60 – resulting in thousands of needless deaths.
That’s why The Sun wants to see a simple poo test offered to everyone, every two years, from their 50th birthday.
But screening is one aspect of catching this disease early. It is vital every Brit knows what the red-flag symptoms of bowel cancer actually are – and act on them if they are worried.
Five red-flag symptoms:
bleeding from the back passage, or blood in your poo
a change in your normal toilet habits – going more frequently for example
pain or a lump in your tummy
Tumours in the bowel typically bleed, which can cause a shortage of red blood cells, known as anaemia.It can cause tiredness and sometimes breathlessness.
In some cases bowel cancer can block the bowel, this is known as a bowel obstruction.
Other signs of bowel cancer include:
gripping pains in the abdomen
constipation and being unable to pass wind
feeling like you need to strain – like doing a number two – but after you’ve been to the loo
While these are all signs to watch out for, experts warn the most serious is noticing blood in your stools.
But, they warn it can prove tricky for doctors to diagnose the disease, because in most cases these symptoms will be a sign of a less serious disease.
What are the risk factors of bowel cancer?
Scientists do not know the cause of most forms of bowel cancer, but they do know a series of factors that can increase a person’s risk of the disease.
Some of these things are just a fact of life – age and genetics for example.
But, others are lifestyle factors that can be changed and improved.
You’re at greater risk of bowel cancer if you have one or more of the following risk factors:
you’re aged over 50
you have a strong family history of the disease – eg. a parent, sibling or child diagnosed with bowel cancer before the age of 50, or two or more relatives diagnosed at any age or one or more relative with a known genetic condition linked to bowel cancer
a history of non-cancerous growths, known as polyps, in your bowel
long-term inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
type 2 diabetes
an unhealthy lifestyle – you smoke, are overweight or obese and do not get enough exercise
BOWEN’S BATTLE BBC newsreader Jeremy Bowen, 59, reveals he has bowel cancer CommentDEBORAH JAMES Mother’s Day with cancer is bittersweet… now I treasure the small things RevealedDOCTOR’S ORDERS Lumps to peeing in the night… 10 early warning signs of cancer in men Exclusive’ALL I WANT’ Sun’s Deborah gets ‘best news stage 4 cancer patient can hear’, she’s STABLE ONIONS BOWEL BOOST Eating half an onion a day ‘slashes risk of getting bowel cancer’
Can bowel cancer be treated?
Bowel cancer is treatable and can be cured, particularly if it is diagnosed early enough.
Some also turn to alternative treatments – including one man who is following research that suggested human breast milk may help kill off cancerous cells.
More than nine out of 10 people with stage 1 bowel cancer – the least serious form – survive five years or longer after they are diagnosed.
However, this survival rate does drop significantly the longer a person has the disease before diagnosis.
Getty Images – Getty BBC journalist Jeremy Bowen has revealed he is battling bowel cancer
Bowel Cancer UK These are the red-flag warning signs that mean you could have bowel cancer
BBC Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen reveals he has bowel cancer aged 59
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online news team? Email us at email@example.com or call 0207 782 4368 . You can WhatsApp us on 07810 791 502. We pay for videos too. Click here to upload yours.