Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub is encouraging men to raise awareness and funds in the fight against bowel cancer in the run up to Christmas by participating in this year’s ‘Decembeard’ campaign.
Decembeard was established in 2012 as a fun way to draw attention to the UK’s second biggest cancer killer – bowel cancer. It encourages men to ditch the razor during December, to let their beard grow and support the lifesaving work of charities like Bowel Cancer UK.
Bowel cancer is a general term for cancer that begins in the large bowel. Depending on where the cancer starts, bowel cancer is sometimes called colon or rectal cancer. Bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in the UK. Mary McNeil, Development Manager at Cornerstone House Centre, said:
“Decembeard provides us with an excellent opportunity to spotlight bowel cancer with a view to initiating screen tests and prevention for more people in the local area.
“More than nine out of ten new cases are diagnosed in people aged over 50, with nearly six out of ten cases being diagnosed in people aged 70 or above. However, bowel cancer can affect anyone of any age, and more than 2,500 new cases are also diagnosed each year in people under the age of 50.
“It is a treatable and curable form of cancer if diagnosed early, and nearly everyone survives bowel cancer if they receive diagnosis at the earliest stage. But recovery rates can drop notably as the disease develops, so early diagnosis is critical.”
Bowel cancer symptoms can be subtle and do not necessarily make a person feel ill. The symptoms can be variable and generally affect the stomach, bowel and back passage areas. It is also possible to experience some other more generic bodily symptoms.
Common symptoms of bowel cancer include a persistent change in bowel habit (such as pooing more often with looser, runnier poos and sometimes abdominal pain), blood in the poo or bleeding from the back passage, abdominal pain or discomfort always brought on by eating, unexplained weight loss, extreme tiredness for no obvious reason and pain or a lump in the stomach area.
Because the warning signs of bowel cancer are like those of some more common conditions, if you have any of these symptoms it does not ordinarily mean you have bowel cancer. It’s more likely they’re caused by something less serious, such as irritable bowel syndrome, piles, anal fissures, constipation or diarrhoea. It is, however, very important not to simply ignore these symptoms and to speak to your GP if you have any concerns.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BOWEL CANCER SCREENING
Bowel cancer screening can save lives. Screening aims to detect bowel cancer at an early stage, when treatment has the best chance of working. Bowel screening is the only screening programme where the test is completed at home.
In Scotland, those aged 50 and over are invited to take part in bowel cancer screening by the NHS. This involves individuals taking a simple home test which looks for hidden blood in the poo every two years. The test can also find polyps (non-cancerous growths), which might develop into cancer. Polyps can usually be removed to lower the risk of bowel cancer.
If you are registered with a GP and aged 50-74, a test kit should automatically be posted out to you every two years. If you are aged 75 or over, you can ask for a bowel cancer screening test by calling the free bowel screening centre helpline on 0800 0121 833.
After a temporary pause due to the coronavirus pandemic, bowel cancer screening has now resumed in Scotland. The faecal immunochemical test (FIT) replaced the guaiac faecal occult blood test (gFOBt) as the test used in the Scottish Bowel Screening Programme in November 2017.
Further information on bowel cancer screening can be obtained by clicking here. There can be both pros and cons to screening, and individuals can discuss any concerns they have with their GP before proceeding with a test.
More information about the Decembeard campaign and raising funds to support Bowel Cancer UK can be obtained by clicking here. Local people can also get behind the fight against bowel cancer by donating to charities such as Cancer Research UK, Macmillan Cancer Support, Cancer Support Scotland and Maggie’s Lanarkshire, to name just a few.
Detailed information about bowel cancer can be acquired by visiting Bowel Cancer UK’s website at www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk. The organisation’s Scotland Team can be contacted by telephoning 0131 285 3846 or emailing email@example.com.
If you are concerned about bowel cancer or bowel problems, you can email one of Bowel Cancer UK’s specialist nurses. General information about bowel cancer is also available on the NHS’s Bowel Cancer Web Page.
Advice in relation to coronavirus for people with bowel cancer can be obtained by visiting Bowel Cancer UK’s Coronavirus Information Hub.
For further information about the activity of Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub over the festive period, please contact The Health Team at Cornerstone House Centre on 01236 739220 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.