Friday, 20 June 2014

Health staff bet on tackling bowel cancer

NHS Ayrshire & Arran's Detect Cancer Early team have been targeting local bookmakers to help raise awareness of bowel cancer and the importance of screening.

Health Promotion staff have been dropping-into William Hill bookies in local towns where they spoke to customers about the importance of early detection.

An NHS spokesperson said, “The sessions were well received by customers and generated some great discussions. For those who wanted to find out more, the team were on hand to provide a range of information about signs and symptoms to look out for and explain how to take the home screening test.”

Hazel Henderson, Consultant in Public Health, added, “Bowel cancer is the third most-common cancer in Scotland. When detected at an early stage it can be highly treatable and we know that nine out of ten people beat bowel cancer if it's found early. As bowel cancer is more common in men - and men are less likely to take the test than women - it's vitally important to reach them and discuss the importance of home screening.”

In Scotland, people between the ages of 50 and 74 are invited to take the screening test every two years. Those over 75 are not routinely sent the test kit, but can request one. The risk of bowel cancer increases with age and the signs and symptoms can sometimes be hidden, so taking the screening test could save your life.

The NHS spokesperson explained, “Whether or not you take the test, it's important to look out for the tell-tale signs of bowel cancer. Anyone experiencing any of the following symptoms should contact their GP: repeated bleeding from your bottom; a recent change in your poo that continues for more than six weeks, without going back to normal; watery poo on its own or with constipation - constipation on its own is less likely to be serious; severe pain in your stomach that won't go away especially after eating; you have recently lost weight without trying; you feel tired all the time and people keep saying 'you look a bit pale.”

Hazel Henderson backed her colleague, saying, “These symptoms can be caused by a few conditions and not just bowel cancer but if you have noticed any of them you should speak to your doctor right away. Even if you regularly take the test but notice any changes between screenings it is important to contact your doctor.

“There are some simple lifestyle changes that can be adopted to reduce the risk of developing bowel cancer. Suggestions include maintaining an active lifestyle and healthy weight, limiting the amount of red and processed meat that we eat each week, limiting alcohol intake, stopping smoking and eating lots of fibre, fruit and vegetables.”

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