Alarmingly low symptom awareness of bowel cancer in the East Midlands

Former Everton midfielder Kevin Sheedy is backing the campaign to raise awareness of the symptoms. EMN-181204-101733001
Former Everton midfielder Kevin Sheedy is backing the campaign to raise awareness of the symptoms. EMN-181204-101733001

Latest figures reveal that more than a quarter of people in the East Midlands (26%) named one of the five most common bowel cancer symptoms, and only 1% could name all five

They also show that one in three people (33%) were not aware of any symptoms of bowel cancer at all.

The findings come from a poll of 4,000 UK adults, which was commissioned by Bowel Cancer UK and Beating Bowel Cancer.

April is Bowel Cancer Awarness Month, so the charity has released its findings and symptoms as a way of best educating the East Midlands population.

The most recognisable symptom, which more than half of the people in the East of England identified (55%) is spotting blood when you go for a poo - either from your bottom or in your feaces.

The other four remaining symptoms of bowel cancer have an alarmingly low rate of awareness:

• Change of bowel habit (14%)

• Pain or lump in your tummy (7%)

• Extreme weight loss (6%)

• Unexplained tiredness/fatigue (3%).

In April alone, almost 3,500 people will be diagnosed with bowel cancer and over 1,300 people will die of the disease.

Being aware of key symptoms and visiting your GP if things don’t feel right can help increase chances of an early diagnosis.

Bowel cancer is treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early.

Nearly everyone diagnosed at the earliest stage will survive bowel cancer but this drops significantly as the disease develops.

Early diagnosis really does save lives, but only around 15% of people are diagnosed at the earliest stage of the disease.

Former Everton midfielder Kevin Sheedy is backing the campaign to raise awareness of bowel cancer symptoms as he was diagnosed with the disease in 2012.

He said: “I noticed I was going to the toilet a lot more and then I started finding blood when I went for a poo.

“I remembered listening to an awareness advert I’d heard on the radio and I knew I had to book an appointment with my GP urgently.

“I was diagnosed with bowel cancer but luckily I was treated quickly.

“I had surgery to remove the tumour before it had spread elsewhere and I didn’t need any further treatment.

“The most important thing is to see your GP if you notice any symptoms. Doing that saved my life.”

Deborah Alsina MBE, chief executive of Bowel Cancer UK and Beating Bowel Cancer, said: “Every day I hear from families about the devastating effects of a bowel cancer diagnosis.

“Our vision is that by 2050 no one will die from bowel cancer, and raising awareness of the symptoms is a key step to achieving this.

“If you experience any of the symptoms of bowel cancer or just don’t feel quite right, no matter your age, please visit your GP.

“Don’t worry about wasting their time. If you are worried that something is wrong, they will want to see you.

“Your GP may be able to put your mind at rest.

“If it is something serious, the earlier you get a diagnosis, the better the chance of successful treatment and cure.”

• To help you raise awareness of bowel cancer, the charity is giving away free copies of their handy symptoms guide for you to share with your family and friends.

Click here to receive your free guide.