Bowel cancer isn’t a subject most of us want to think about, but it’s important that we do.
April is Bowel Cancer UK’s annual bowel cancer awareness month. Bowel cancer is treatable if detected early enough. And as with most illnesses, the earlier it is detected, the easier it is to treat. Symptoms of bowel cancer include persistent abdomen pain, a persistent change in your bowel movements and persistent blood in your stools.
Currently, the NHS will invite you to a FOBT (fecal occult blood test) screening every 2 years if you’re aged 60-74 (in England, Wales and Northern Ireland) or aged 50-74 (in Scotland). Although the FOBT screening is a useful tool, at Bluecrest we instead use the FIT (fecal immunochemical test) method. Bowel Cancer UK agree that the FIT test is more reliable than the FOBT test, as the results are not affected by your diet or any medication you may be taking.
The exact cause of bowel cancer is not fully understood. But the NHS suggest a number of factors which can increase your risk of developing the disease. These include:
- Age – almost 9 in 10 instances of bowel cancer occur in the over 60s
- Diet – eating a lot of red or processed meats
- Weight – being overweight or obese increases your risk
- Exercise – inactivity increases your risk
- Alcohol and smoking – drinking a lot of alcohol and smoking cigarettes can increase your risk
- Family history – having a close relative who suffered from bowel cancer under the age of 50 puts you at a greater lifetime risk of developing the condition