Improving picture for people with bowel cancer

Bowel Cancer UK has released statistics showing the rate of people dying from bowel cancer in the UK has plummeted by more than 30 per cent in the last 20 years.

Bowel cancer was responsible for 38 deaths per 100,000 people in 1995, falling to 26 deaths per 100,000 people by 2015. The drop in rates, taking into account changing population figures, equates to a decrease in bowel cancer deaths from 17,600 in 1995 to 15,800 in 2015.

Dr Lisa Wilde, director of research and external affairs at Bowel Cancer UK, said: “It is positive news that fewer people are dying from bowel cancer now than 20 years ago. The disease is preventable, treatable and curable so there is still more to be done to ensure thousands of lives are not needlessly lost every year.”

Bowel cancer is very treatable but the earlier it is diagnosed the easier it is to treat. People whose cancer is diagnosed at an early stage have a much higher chance of successful treatment than those whose cancer has become more widespread.

If you have any symptoms, don’t be embarrassed and don’t ignore them. Doctors are used to seeing lots of people with bowel problems.

The symptoms of bowel cancer can include:

  • Bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your stool
  • A change in bowel habit lasting three weeks or more
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
  • A pain or lump in your tummy
  • Most people with these symptoms don’t have bowel cancer as other health problems can cause similar symptoms. But if you have one or more of these, or if things just don’t feel right, go to see your GP.

The Bowel Cancer UK website has a handy symptoms diary which can help patients to record symptoms and explain them to a GP.

Sometimes, a tumour can block the bowel, causing sudden strong pains in the stomach area, bloating and feeling or being sick. You may also be unable to empty your bowels or pass wind. If you think you have a blocked bowel, see your GP straight away or go to a hospital accident and emergency department.

We can all take a few simple steps to help reduce the chances of us developing bowel cancer. These include eating healthy food, taking exercise and not smoking. Read more advice here.