New campaign bids to increase bowel cancer survival rates

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A new campaign aims to overcome the taboos around bowel cancer in a bid to increase survival rates from the disease. NHS Ayrshire & Arran is backing the Scottish Government’s Detect Cancer Early campaign to raise awareness of bowel cancer and promote the benefits of screening as the best way to detect any hidden signs of the disease.

Screening can find bowel cancer early, even if there are no obvious symptoms, meaning it can be treated more successfully.

Hazel Henderson, Consultant in Public Health, explains: “Although bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in Scotland, and people are at an increased risk of bowel cancer as they get older, it’s highly treatable if caught early. In fact, nine out of ten people survive the disease if it’s detected and treated in its earliest stages.”

So if you’re aged between 50 and 74, you should receive a screening kit every two years, on or around your birthday. The kit will be posted to you meaning you can do the test in the privacy of your own home. So don’t leave it on the mantelpiece with your other cards – don’t take the chance, take the test. If you want more information on doing the test, go online to www.bowelscreeningtest.org or call the helpline on 0800 0121 833.

As well as taking the test, remember to contact your doctor if you have any worries at all, or any signs and symptoms that cause you concern. Although screening is the best way to find bowel cancer early, it will not catch every bowel cancer.

So whether you decide to do the test or not, it is important to look out for some signs and symptoms: Repeated bleeding from your bottom or blood in your poo; A recent change in your poo that continues for more than six weeks, without going back to normal; Watery poo on its own or with constipation (constipation on its own is less likely to be serious); Severe pain in your stomach that won’t go away, especially after eating; Recent weight loss without trying; Feeling tired all the time and people telling you “you look a bit pale”.

If you want to find out a little bit more about bowel cancer, including its signs and symptoms, go online to www.nhsinform.co.uk or call 0800 22 44 88.

If you live in Scotland and you’re between 50 and 74 years old – and you haven’t completed a bowel screening test in the past two years – you can ask about getting one: call the helpline on 0800 0121 833 or go online to www.bowelscreeningtest.org. From April 2013, if you are over 75 years old you can still take a bowel screening test every two years if you want to but you you’ll need to ask for one. Just call the helpline on 0800 0121 833.