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Bowel Cancer UK is the UK's leading bowel cancer charity

Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

Bowel Cancer Awareness Month 2012

Following last week’s post on Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, the campaign’s creators, Bowel Cancer UK, write a guest post about the signs and symptoms of the condition and tell us why the campaign is so important.

Bowel Cancer UK is encouraging men and women to be aware of the signs and symptoms of the disease this Bowel Cancer Awareness Month – April 2012.

Bowel cancer (also known as colorectal or colon cancer) is the second most common cause of cancer death in the UK, affecting both men and women. Every year over 40,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer and more than 16,000 people die of the disease. But this doesn’t have to be the case. Bowel cancer is very treatable, especially if it’s caught early. That’s why awareness of the symptoms is so important.

The bowel

The bowel is part of the digestive system. When we chew food, our salivary glands break it down for absorption and it enters the stomach via the oesophagus. Stomach acid helps to break it down further and it then enters the small intestine where nutrients are absorbed. The digested food enters the large bowel where water is absorbed, and the muscles of the bowel move the waste towards the rectum and anus where it leaves the body. This process takes around 24 to 72 hours.

Many bowel cancer cases start from polyps, which are small mushroom-like growths which are usually benign (harmless) and very common in people over the age of 50. Most polyps will remain harmless but some can become cancerous. A healthy diet and lifestyle may help stop polyps becoming cancerous.

The symptoms

Knowing the symptoms of bowel cancer, and visiting your doctor if you have concerns is crucial to the successful treatment of bowel cancer.

Symptoms of bowel cancer include:

•    Bleeding from the bottom and/or blood in your poo
•    A change in your normal bowel habit lasting three weeks or more
•    Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
•    Unexplained weight loss
•    A pain or lump in your tummy

Remember, most symptoms will not be bowel cancer. If you are worried about any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor or speak to one of our specialist nurses on 0800 8 40 35 40 or email support@bowelcanceruk.org.uk.

More information on bowel cancer and Bowel Cancer UK can be found on our website: www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk.

At World First we offer cost-effective bowel cancer travel insurance, whether you have been recently diagnosed or have been given the all clear. Visit our website for more details.

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