It’s the third most common cause of cancer in the Island with around 55 new cases a year and even though more of us are surviving bowel cancer than a decade ago we’re being urged to keep an eye out for signs of the disease.
The Health department say nine out of ten cases can be treated successfully if diagnosed early and are backing the national “Don’t rush to flush” campaign - handing out free toilet rolls in the street at the weekend with tips on what symptoms to look out for.
The General Hospital’s Consultant Gastroenterologist Dr David Ng said: “Too few people talk about bowel cancer and it is still considered a taboo by many. Sometimes embarrassment can even stop people from getting the help they need. But if bowel cancer is caught early, it can be treated and, in most cases, cured so it’s vital you don’t ignore your symptoms.”
“The ‘Don’t Rush to Flush’ campaign is about encouraging people to look in the toilet after they have used it to check for any early signs of bowel cancer. It’s important that you get to know what bowel habits are normal for you so you can spot any changes.
“A change in bowel habit lasting for three weeks or more, especially to looser or runny poo, needs to be checked by a doctor. Other symptoms to check for are any signs of bleeding from your bottom and / or blood in your poo, unexplained weight loss, extreme tiredness for no obvious reason or a pain or lump in your tummy.”
“Anyone experiencing any of these symptoms should go and see their GP as soon as possible. The longer you leave it, the bigger the problem becomes so seek help early.”
Latest figures show more men in Jersey are surviving the disease - 82% are still alive five years after diagnosis, compared to 72% a decade ago and Health say you can reduce your chances of getting bowel cancer by making small changes to your lifestyle – eating more of your five a day, exercising more and quitting smoking.
They are also urging all 60 year olds to get tested for signs of the disease.
Health Minister Senator Andrew Green said: “Bowel screening is an important issue, and a swift, practical way to ensure that you are healthy. I’d recommend any Islander who is sent a letter inviting them for a free bowel screening test to take up the appointment. It is a simple check which could save your life.”
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