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Published on November 28th, 2012 | by The Town Crier


Bowel Cancer

Bowel cancer is the third most common type of cancer in England; depending on where the cancer starts, it can also be called rectal cancer or colon cancer. It usually grows very slowly over a period of up to 10 years before it starts to spread and affect other parts of the body.

The risk of developing bowel cancer increases with age; 72% of sufferers are over 65 years of age. You can reduce your risk by exercising regularly, maintaining a regular healthy weight, reducing alcohol intake, stopping smoking and eating a healthy diet which is high in fibre and low in saturated fat. Avoid eating a diet high in red or processed meats. There is an increased risk of developing bowel cancer if you suffer from a digestive disorder such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis or if you have a close relative who has had bowel cancer.

So what are the warning signs of bowel cancer? Unexplained bleeding from the bottom or blood in the stools, a change in bowel habits lasting more than three weeks (diarrhoea, constipation or more frequent passing of bowel movements), abdominal pain which may be severe, bloating, weight loss, tiredness and a lump in the tummy on the right hand side are symptoms which require further investigation; they may be unrelated to bowel cancer but a visit to your GP is recommended.

Treatment will depend on general health, the type, size and grade of the tumour and whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Surgery is usually the main treatment for bowel cancer although in around 20% of cases the cancer is too advanced to be removed by surgery. Chemotherapy, radiotherapy or biological therapy are sometimes required in addition to surgery. Early diagnosis improves the prognosis.

It is vital that awareness of bowel cancer is raised in this country in order to educate, reduce the incidence and improve the prognosis. Find out how you can help by visiting www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk

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