Bowel cancer detection: No time for British reserve
Bowel Cancer New and significantly improved techniques mean that we should shed all fear of using the national bowel screening programme or reporting symptoms promptly to our doctors.
About 1 in 20 of us will be diagnosed with bowel cancer in our lives. It’s usually detected either when you go to your doctor with symptoms, or via the national bowel screening programme, which consultant gastroenterologist Dr James East terms “a national triumph – it’s the NHS at its very best and the UK is leading the world in this field.”
Paradoxically, Britain lags behind other countries in treating bowel cancer partly because “UK patients leave it too late; they don’t want to bother their GP, especially older patients who might think bleeding’s just haemorrhoids – it’s heart-breaking.”
About 1 in 20 of us will be diagnosed with bowel cancer in our lives.
Bowel scope screening, now available to over-55s, detects adenomas (pre-cancerous polyps) which can be removed to prevent the development of cancer. “It’s a free test that could save your life,” says East. “If you experience rectal bleeding, unexplained weight loss or any change in bowel behaviour that lasts more than three weeks, don’t be embarrassed or apprehensive – go to your GP”. Tests have improved greatly with innovative products available to help increase early adenoma detection and meaning the cure rate, if bowel cancer is detected early, is 95%.