Bradford district and Craven GPs encourage people to get to know their bowels

April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and GPs in the Bradford district and Craven are reminding local people to make sure they take part in regular screening.

Bowel Cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in the UK.  However, if diagnosed in the early stages, it’s highly treatable. 

The problem is that far too few people with bowel cancer are diagnosed in the early stages. Some people either find it uncomfortable to discuss the symptoms or simply do not know what they are. Regular screening is the best way to get diagnosed early and can help to save thousands of lives.

Local screening rates, for people eligible for the test, are all currently under the national average: Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven CCG: 63.2%, Bradford City CCG: 34.6%, Bradford Districts CCG: 54.6%. The national average is 57.9%.

The average incidence of bowel cancer nationally, per 100,000 people, is 72.9. Locally, it is:

  • Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven: 71.9
  • Bradford City: 50.3
  • Bradford Districts: 70.6

Symptoms of bowel cancer may include: abdominal pain, blood in your stools and/or a change in your normal bowel habit lasting three weeks or more. Other symptoms can include extreme tiredness for no obvious reason and unexplained weight loss. 

If you notice these symptoms, speak to your GP as soon as possible. And remember - you can talk to your GP about anything. They've seen it all before, so there’s no need to be embarrassed.

The local NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs): Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven, Bradford City and Bradford Districts are urging people to be bowel-aware to help prevent cancer.

Dr Ian Fenwick, clinical lead for cancer at the Bradford CCGs, said that as a GP he saw a wide range of different health problems.

“Our bowels may not be on the top of our list of things to talk about, but it’s important that we do,” he said.

“Screening plays an important part in the fight against bowel cancer, because the earlier the cancer is diagnosed, the greater the chance it can be cured completely.

“There are lots of things you can do to help reduce your risk of bowel cancer, like trying to maintain a diet high in fibre, for example by eating wholegrains such as brown rice and granary bread, and avoiding too many processed meats, such as ham, bacon and sausages.”

Older people are most at risk of bowel cancer, but younger people can be affected too. Currently, everyone between the ages of 60 and 74 who is registered with a GP is offered bowel cancer screening every two years. People in this age group will automatically be sent an invitation, followed by a screening kit so they can do the test at home.

Bradford Council has also recently developed three new bowel cancer videos to encourage more people to take part in the screening programme. You can find them and more information on bowel screening by visiting the Bradford Council website.

2017 marks 11 years since the introduction of bowel cancer screening in England. During Bowel Cancer Awareness month people are encouraged to spread the word among their family, friends and colleagues about the benefits of participating in bowel cancer screening.

For more information on screening and symptoms visit NHS Choices or visit the Bowel Cancer UK website