With thousands of people experiencing delays in diagnosis and treatment of bowel cancer as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, men are being encouraged to raise awareness and funds in the fight against the disease through participating in ‘Decembeard’ this month.
Launched in 2012, Decembeard was created 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. Most people diagnosed with it are over the age of 60, although it can affect younger people too
Last year, during Bowel Cancer Awareness Week, Bowel Cancer UK teamed up with Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub to host an awareness raising event for the people of Cumbernauld. Ross Lamb, Scottish Health Promotion and Training Officer for Bowel Cancer UK, commented:
“Our organisation was delighted to visit North Lanarkshire to host an event which raised awareness of bowel cancer for people living and working in the Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Northern Corridor area.
“Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK, with almost 42,000 people being diagnosed every year and around 268,000 people battling the disease today in the UK.
“Despite these alarming statistics, knowledge about the condition and recognition of the importance of bowel cancer screen testing is perhaps not as high profile as it could or should be, particularly where older people are concerned.
“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 SCREENING
To detect cases of bowel cancer sooner, the NHS in Scotland offers bowel cancer screening to adults registered with a GP in Scotland.
The Scottish Bowel Screening Programme invites men and women aged between 50 and 74 to take part in screening every two years. Bowel screening aims to find cancer at an early stage when treatment is likely to be more effective. Bowel screening is the only screening programme where the test is completed at home.
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.
Taking part in bowel cancer screening reduces your chances of dying from bowel cancer. Removing any polyps – small growths that can develop on the inner lining of your bottom (rectum) – found in bowel scope screening can prevent cancer.
However, all screening involves a balance of potential harms, as well as benefits. It’s up to you to decide if you want to have it. Click on the link to read about bowel cancer screening, including more about what the test involves, what the different possible results mean, and the potential risks to weigh up.
At the time of writing, NHS Lanarkshire’s home test kit Bowel Screening programme had been paused due to the coronavirus pandemic. Latest updates on the programme’s status can be obtained by clicking here.
More information about the Decembeard campaign and raising funds to support Bowel Cancer UK can be obtained by visiting www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk.
For further information about the activity of Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub, please contact The Health Team at Cornerstone House Centre on 01236 739220 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.