GPs in Barnsley are backing a national bowel cancer campaign by urging people to talk openly about their poo to broach the topic of common bowel cancer symptoms.
General awareness of early symptoms such as blood in poo or looser poo for more than three weeks is low and in Barnsley latest figures show 183 cases of bowel cancer in 2008. The disease affects both men and women and is responsible for more than 13,000 deaths a year, making it the UK’s second biggest cancer killer. Across the borough in 2008 there were 67 deaths.
Nine out of 10 people diagnosed with bowel cancer are aged over 55 and those with a family history are more at risk. The earlier the disease is diagnosed the more treatable it is. Nationally it is estimated that 1,700 lives could be saved if England’s bowel cancer survival rate matched the best in Europe.
Dr Colette Leese, a local GP and MacMillan facilitator for NHS Barnsley said: “Figures show that bowel cancer claims many lives locally every year which is why it’s so important people aren’t afraid to discuss these specific problems with their poo.
“Anyone who has blood in their poo or looser poo that has lasted for more than three weeks should visit a doctor immediately. The chances are it’s nothing to worry about, but you need to get checked out because early treatment can save lives.”
In 2010 Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis’ wife Caroline died of bowel cancer at the age of 43 after a four-year battle.
He said: “I would urge anyone who has any concerns about their symptoms to speak to their GP immediately. When bowel cancer is diagnosed early it is easier to treat. Being more aware of symptoms is clearly important if we hope to save lives from the disease.”
Dr Leese added: “Many people think that if you have bowel cancer there is no hope but it’s important to remember that it is a treatable disease and by talking about symptoms, more people will come forward to seek advice. It’s very straightforward for your GP to examine you and determine whether to send you for further tests. You will either get reassurance that it isn’t bowel cancer or you will find out it is and have a better chance of survival. Go with your instincts, if you are worried then see your GP.”
For further information about the signs and symptoms of bowel cancer visit: www.nhs.uk/bowelcancer