People urged to take bowel cancer test

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A citywide campaign to encourage people to take up their bowel cancer test is being delivered by Leeds City Council and the NHS as part of bowel cancer awareness month.

The cancer is one of the UK’s most common cancer killers and one in five people who develop bowel cancer are aged 60 and over. The aim is to ensure more people can make sure they are clear of the cancer, or catch it early and get appropriate treatment by increasing awareness and take up of the screening and testing.

Coun Lisa Mulherin, Chair of Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “We know response rates to the screening test are lower than they should be. We’re determined to play our part in tackling this potential killer, and the simple test is key to doing that. We all know that lots of people want to avoid bad news and it isn’t the nicest subject to talk about. But the alternatives are worse, so it is a great chance to reassure yourself.”

Dr Ian Cameron, Leeds City Council’s Director of Public Health, said: “With around 40,000 new cases diagnosed every year, bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in the UK. Around one in 20 of us will develop bowel cancer, so it really is something to watch out for.

“Screening plays an important part in the fight against bowel cancer because it can help the illness before it causes obvious symptoms, which increases the chances of surviving the condition.”

Most people who are eventually diagnosed with bowel cancer have one of the following symptom combinations:

• a persistent change in bowel habit causing them to go to the toilet more often and pass looser stools, usually together with blood on or in their stools

• a persistent change in bowel habit without blood in their stools, but with abdominal pain

• blood in the stools without other haemorrhoid symptoms such as soreness, discomfort, pain, itching or a lump hanging down outside the back passage

• abdominal pain, discomfort or bloating always provoked by eating, sometimes resulting in a reduction in the amount of food eaten and weight loss

The symptoms of bowel cancer can be subtle and don’t necessarily make you feel ill.