Beating Bowel Cancer – lower screening age from 60 to 50

Beating Bowel Cancer was our Charity of 2016 and we stand by them in supporting their petition to: “Reduce bowel cancer screening age from 60 to 50”

We need your help to make a difference – please sign this petition and show your support in saving more lives https://www.beatingbowelcancer.org/reduce-bowel-cancer-screening-age-60-50/

When we catch bowel cancer early nearly everyone survives, yet it is the second biggest cancer killer. Variations in the screening age across the UK are leading to thousands of bowel cancer patients in their 50s missing out on the opportunity of being diagnosed early. Within this campaign, we have heard many sad stories about people in their 50s dying from bowel cancer. We were also shocked to discover that in Scotland they do have a screening age from 50years old.

We were privileged to be invited to The House of Commons for a Parliamentary Reception on 25th January this year to support the launch of this campaign and it was great to see so many MP’s attending, we met with David Mowat (MP for Warrington South) – see our photo with him supporting this change.

If the screening age was reduced from age 60 to 50 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, to be in line with Scotland, over 4,000 patients a year would be given the chance to be diagnosed earlier.

Want to know more about bowel cancer?

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK today, affecting around 1 in 19 women and 1 in 14 men. According to Cancer Research UK, there are now more than 41,900 new cases of bowel cancer being diagnosed every year.

If diagnosed at an early stage, bowel cancer can be treated very successfully in over 90% of cases. In spite of this, bowel cancer remains the UK’s second biggest cancer killer, claiming a life every half an hour.

43% of bowel cancer cases are diagnosed in people aged 75 years and over, and 95% are diagnosed in those aged 50 and over. However, bowel cancer can affect anyone at any age – around 5% of new bowel cancer cases are in people aged under 50.

Survival rates for bowel cancer are lower in the UK than in many other European countries and there is variation in the quality of care, depending on where you’re treated. Positive improvements are happening all the time in bowel cancer diagnosis, treatment and care. But we need to do better. Bowel cancer can be beaten – if we act to diagnose more people early and we deliver the best possible care and treatment.

We need to make sure bowel cancer is diagnosed earlier. When diagnosed at stage 1, more than nine out of ten (97%) people survive for five years or more. At stage 4, this drops to less than one in ten (7%).

Symptoms

Being aware of the symptoms of bowel cancer is the most important part of protecting yourself from the disease.

If you notice any one or more of the higher risk symptoms listed here, it is usually quite safe to watch and wait for up to three weeks. But if the symptoms have not settled down after this time, you should get advice from your GP. He/she will often be able to offer a simple explanation and reassurance once they have taken a history of your symptoms and examined you. The GP will also be able to make a referral to the appropriate person if they feel you should be investigated further.

Most people with these symptoms DO NOT have bowel cancer, but your GP will certainly want to examine you and may refer you or do further tests to rule it out.

Higher risk symptoms:

A change in your bowel habit

Has your normal bowel habit changed? Are you going to the toilet more often or experiencing looser poo (diarrhoea). Do you have constipation, a feeling of fullness or incomplete emptying of your back passage after going to the toilet?

A lump in your abdomen (tummy)

Can you feel a new, unexplained lump in your abdomen (tummy) which doesn’t go away?

Bleeding from the bottom or blood in your poo

Have you noticed bleeding from your bottom with no obvious reason such as local soreness, piles (haemorrhoids) or tears (anal fissures)? Have you tried over the counter remedies, but the condition has not improved?

 Unexplained tiredness, dizziness or breathlessness

Do you feel constantly tired, dizzy or breathless? Are you looking paler than usual? These may be signs of anaemia (low iron levels in your blood).

 Pain in your abdomen (tummy)

Do you have constant or intermittent pain anywhere in your abdomen? It may be linked to going to the toilet or it might come and go like cramps or colic.

Unexplained weight loss

Have you lost weight without dieting, maybe due to reduced appetite, feeling bloated or sick?

Bowel cancer affects over 41,000 people every year – men and women of all ages – and claims almost 50 lives every day. BUT if bowel cancer is caught early over 90% of cases can be treated successfully. If you have symptoms and you are worried, make an appointment and talk to your GP.

This information and more can all be found on www.beatingbowelcancer.org

Written by Jane Lambert 21st February 2017