Bowel Cancer – What you need to know
Bowel cancer, or colorectal cancer, is the third most common cancer in Ireland. For some, it may be an uncomfortable topic to discuss, but with the right information and awareness of the signs and symptoms of the disease, a quick conversation with your GP could save your life.
In 2019, 1,731 men were diagnosed with bowel cancer. The good news is, that when caught early, colorectal cancer has a 63% survival rate five years after diagnosis.
While there is no conclusive reason why people develop bowel cancer, but we do know that our risk increases as we get older.
Simple steps to help reduce your risk:
1) Eat a balanced diet –
Cases of bowel cancer tend to be higher in countries with diets higher in fats and lower in fibre. To help reduce your risk, eat foods that will keep your bowels moving and your colon clear. Try to keep sugars and fats to a minimum and eat foods high in fibre and vitamins to help support good colon health.
2) Get to know the signs and symptoms –
Listening to what your body is trying to tell you is hugely important for the early diagnosis of bowel cancer. Things like changes in the look or frequency of our stool such as being constipated, or having diarrhoea, blood in the stool, unexplained weight loss or pain in the abdomen or rectum are all signs linked to bowel cancer. If you have any concerns, we urge you to see your GP immediately.
3) Knowing your family history-
If a member of your family has previously been diagnosed with bowel disease, it’s important that you are aware of the signs and symptoms of bowel cancer and have a FIT test done by you GP. A faecal immunochemical test, or a FIT test is a simple test done to detect the existence of blood particles in your stool that aren’t visible to the eye. A FIT test will not tell you if you have bowel cancer, but it is a good indicator of whether or not you need to go for further testing.
4) Sign up for BowelScreen if you are eligible
BowelScreen – The National Bowel Screening Programme offers free bowel screening to men and women aged 60 to 69. The at home BowelScreen kit is a free at home test, and we encourage all those eligible to sign up to receive the kit, and take up the free test when it arrives.
For more information on the signs and symptoms of bowel cancer, and BowelScreen, visit our website.