Raising awareness of bowel cancer - Scotland’s second biggest cancer killer after lung cancer – was the aim of a recent NHS Lanarkshire event.
A group of colorectal clinical nurse specialists spent a day at the University of the West of Scotland in Hamilton speaking with staff and students.
Their goal was to raise awareness of the disease and show how related deaths could be reduced.
Lorna MacNicol, NHS Lanarkshire’s lead gastro/intestinal cancer nurse specialist, said: “Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in the UK and the second biggest cause of death, yet too few people know about this.
“Worse still, many people are unaware of the symptoms and don’t seek medical advice if they are concerned.
“As a result, 15 per cent more people in the UK are diagnosed at a more advanced stage each year than in other parts of Europe.”
Around 350 people in Lanarkshire every year are diagnosed with bowel cancer and better awareness of the condition could reduce this figure.
At the university event the cancer nurse experts handed out information leaflets which gave advice on the signs and symptoms to look out for as well as tips on how lifestyle changes – such as a better diet and more exercise – can help reduce the chances of developing the condition.
The awareness event was one of many NHS Lanarkshire organised over April, which was Bowel Cancer Awareness month.
Lorna continued: “This year’s awareness month was all the more significant as a national bowel cancer screening programme is due to start rolling out in Lanarkshire from August to all men and women between the ages of 50 and 74.
“There is good evidence to show that if the disease is caught early enough there is a 90 per cent chance people will be treated successfully.”
The health workers also made individuals aware of Bowel Cancer UK’s new ‘Check it’ awareness campaign which over the next three years aims to help reduce the number of people dying from the disease.
Signs and symptoms to look out for when going to the toilet include:
- Repeated bleeding from your bottom or blood in your motions.
- A recent change in your bowel habit that goes on day in day out for over six weeks without going back to normal.
- Looser motions or alternating with constipation (constipation alone is less likely to be serious).
- Pains in the tummy that are severe, continual and have started recently, especially after eating.
- You have recently lost weight without trying.
- You have been told that you are anaemic or look pale and feel tired much of the time.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, consult your doctor.
For more information on bowel cancer visit www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk or www.checkit.org.uk