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Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

Published: 02 Apr 2019

April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month in the UK – but no matter where you are in the world, spreading the word and making people aware of risks is vital to help save lives. 

Bowel cancer is one of the most common cancers, after breast, prostate and lung cancers. It is most likely to occur in the over 50’s, but anyone at any age can be diagnosed.  It is treatable and curable, if diagnosed early, but most people aren’t aware of the symptoms and many don’t realise you can be screened and as a result many people are only diagnosed in the latter stages.

This is why we are encouraging people to share this blog to raise awareness and increase the number of people being screened and symptoms

The Facts

Figures differ slightly from country to country but in the main they stay consistent:
Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in the US and the UK 
In most countries it is the third or fourth most common cancer, after breast, prostate and lung cancers.

The Symptoms

Colon cancer is cancer of the large intestine (colon), which is the final part of your digestive tract. Most cases of colon cancer begin as small, noncancerous (benign) clumps of cells called adenomatous polyps. Over time some of these polyps can become colon cancers. Polyps may be small and produce few, if any, symptoms. 

In the early stages, symptoms are difficult to spot, which is why screening is so important.
When symptoms do appear, they'll likely vary, depending on the cancers size and location in your large intestine, but may include:

Screening for Bowel Cancer

Finding colon cancer at its earliest stage provides the greatest chance for a cure and regular screening has been shown to save lives.

Don't wait until you have symptoms - screening should be routine in order pick up any abnormalities before they become cancerous. In most countries the recommended age to begin screen is at 50 years old, but people with an increased risk, such as those with a family history of colon cancer, should consider screening sooner.   

There are different types of bowel screening test:

As well as identifying early stage bowel cancer, screening will also detect polyps. These are growths that are not cancerous (benign) but may develop into cancer over time. Polyps can easily be removed, which reduces the risk of bowel cancer developing

Stages of Bowel Cancer

If you've been diagnosed with colon cancer, your doctor will need to carry out further tests to determine the cancer stage and help to determine what treatments are most appropriate for you.

Treatment

The type of treatment your doctor recommends will depend largely on the stage of your cancer. The three primary treatment options are surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.

Surgery for early-stage bowel cancer

Earliest Stages:  If your colon cancer is very small, your doctor may recommend a minimally invasive approach to surgery, such as:

Surgery for later-stage bowel cancer:

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy for bowel cancer is usually given after surgery if the cancer has spread to lymph nodes. In this way, chemotherapy may help reduce the risk of cancer recurrence and death from cancer. Sometimes chemotherapy may be used before surgery as well, with the goal of shrinking the cancer before an operation. 

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy uses powerful energy sources, such as X-rays, to kill cancer cells, to shrink large tumors before an operation so that they can be removed more easily, or to relieve symptoms of colon cancer and rectal cancer. Radiation therapy either alone or combined with chemotherapy is one of the standard treatment options for the initial management of rectal cancer followed by surgery.

Risk factors of Bowel Cancer:

If you have any questions about Bowel Cancer, or any other type of cancer, join the Facebook Chemotherapy Support group.  You’ll find thousands of people who are fighting cancer right now, and willing to offer advice and give support to anyone that might be struggling.
 


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