April is Bowel Cancer Awareness month, and it’s a subject that’s close to our hearts here at The Mayfair GP. If caught early, bowel cancer is very treatable. However, the early symptoms are often confused with other things or are embarrassing to talk about. This can cause a delay in getting diagnosed until much later.
What are the symptoms of bowel cancer?
Most of the symptoms of bowel cancer are very common, and most people who have these symptoms don’t have bowel cancer. But if you are suffering from any of the following, it is important to ask your GP for bowel cancer screening, just to rule it out:
- A sudden and ongoing change in bowel habits
- Bleeding from the bottom, or blood in your faeces
- Unexplained weight loss
- Extreme fatigue
- A pain or lump in your abdomen
Bowel health screening
This year, the advice on bowel cancer screening in England has changed. Previously it was recommended that everyone over 60 should be screened every two years. But from April 2021, NHS England recommends that screening start from age 50.
At The Mayfair GP we can offer health screening for bowel cancer whatever your age. The first step is always a comprehensive consultation about your medical and family history and lifestyle. We can organise further tests and investigations to provide us with all the information we need before we advise you on treatment options. We work closely with the colorectal team and can offer same week appointments with specialists as needed.
How to avoid bowel cancer
As with all cancers, sometimes bowel cancer does just strike at random, and it certainly isn’t your fault if that happens to you. But there are things you can do to reduce your chances:
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet containing plenty of fibre
- Stay well hydrated
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Keep yourself physically active
- Avoid alcohol and smoking – around 6% of bowel cancer cases are linked to alcohol abuse and 7% to smoking
The great news is that all of these steps will help you to reduce your risk not only of bowel cancer, but of many other cancers and diseases. They will also help you to sleep better, feel less stressed and generally be fitter and healthier.
At The Mayfair GP, we specialise in lifestyle medicine, which means we like to look at ways you can change your lifestyle to provide health benefits and prevent illness occurring, rather than treating it after the event.
So if you’re interested in finding out more about how you can reduce your risk of developing bowel cancer, or would simply like to talk in confidence about any concerns you may have, please don’t hesitate to contact us.