Deborah James recently announced that she is in hospice care at home with bowel cancer, after being first diagnosed in 2016.
Since her diagnosis, she has spoken candidly about her treatment on the BBC’s You, Me and Big C podcast.
Bowel cancer is one of the most common cancers in the UK, with more than 42,000 people diagnosed each year.
Bowel cancer is a general term for cancer that begins in the large intestine, but depending on where the cancer begins it is sometimes called colon or rectal cancer.
Here’s everything you need to know.
What is bowel cancer?
Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK, according to Bowel Cancer UK.
The charity explains that most bowel cancers develop from precancerous growths – called polyps – but not all tumors develop into cancer.
If your doctor finds any polyps, they can remove them to prevent them from becoming cancerous, adds Bowel Cancer UK.
According to the NHS, the three main symptoms of bowel cancer are:
- persistent blood in your stool – that happens for no apparent reason or is related to a change in bowel habits
- a constant change in your bowel habits – often you have to have more bowel movements and your stools may also flow more
- Persistent lower abdominal (abdominal) pain, bloating or discomfort – this is always caused by eating and can be associated with loss of appetite or significant unintentional weight loss
However, the NHS notes that most people with these symptoms do not have bowel cancer and other health problems that can cause similar symptoms.
When should I see a GP?
The NHS says you should see your GP if you have had any symptoms of bowel cancer for three weeks or more.
- check your belly and bottom to make sure you don’t have lumps
- arrange for a simple blood test to check for iron deficiency anemia – this can indicate whether there is any bleeding from your intestines that you are not aware of
- arrange for you to have a simple check-up in the hospital to make sure there is no serious cause of your symptoms
You should “make sure you see your GP if your symptoms persist or continue to recur after stopping treatment, regardless of their severity or your age,” the NHS said. more.
Who gets screened for bowel cancer?
You use a home test kit, called a fecal immunochemical test (FIT), to collect a small stool sample and send it to a lab, which is then tested for a small amount of blood. .
Blood can be a sign of polyps or bowel cancer. Polyps are growths in the intestines. They are not cancerous, but can turn cancerous over time.
According to the NHS, if the test detects anything abnormal, you may be asked to have further tests to confirm or rule out cancer.
What causes bowel cancer?
What is bowel cancer treatment?
Bowel cancer can be treated using a combination of different treatments, depending on where the cancer is in your bowel and how far it has spread.
- surgery – removing the cancerous part of the intestine. This is the most effective bowel cancer cure and in many cases all you need
- chemotherapy – where drugs are used to kill cancer cells
- radiation therapy – where radiation is used to kill cancer cells
- targeted therapy – a newer class of drugs that increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy and prevent cancer from spreading
However, the NHS explains that as with most cancers, the chance of a complete cure depends on how far it has spread at the time it is diagnosed.
If the cancer is confined to the bowel, surgery can often remove it completely.
Keyhole or robotic surgery is now being used more often. This allows surgery to be performed with less pain and faster recovery.
If you have any concerns or questions about bowel cancer you should speak to your GP and further information about the condition is also available on the NHS and Bowel Cancer UK websites.
https://www.nationalworld.com/health/bowel-cancer-signs-symptoms-screening-uk-causes-3182068 What are the symptoms of bowel cancer? Signs to watch out for