Ninety-eight percent of people diagnosed early with bowel cancer will survive for at least one year, compared to 40 percent of people diagnosed at stage four, according to data from Cancer Research UK
. However, nearly half of people have never consciously checked, or can’t remember the last time they looked for symptoms of bowel cancer, according to new research by Bupa UK
So we welcome the increased focus that bowel cancer detection is getting following Public Health England’s announcement that bowel cancer screening in England will be offered to men and women 10 years earlier at the age of 50. This brings England in line with Scotland where the screening age is already 50.
Currently, men and women in England aged 60 to 74 are invited for bowel screening and are sent a home test kit every two years. But following a review the UK’s national screening committee recommended screening should be offered from the age of 50 to 74 – which has been agreed by ministers.
Detecting and diagnosing cancer early can help improve the prognosis, and bowel cancer screening is important as it can detect it in the early stages – even before there are any symptoms.
I would always recommend taking a proactive approach to any part of your health. To help spot abnormalities early on we offer a bowel cancer screening stool test as part of our Enhance, Peak and Mature health assessments for people aged 45 and over. This screening test looks for small amounts of blood in your stool, which you wouldn’t notice with the naked eye. We know that blood in the stool can be a sign of bowel cancer.
There are important symptoms of bowel cancer to look for including changes in bowel movement, particularly persistent looser stools, blood in your stools and unexplained weight loss. There are a number of ways to help reduce your risk of bowel cancer including eating a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruit and vegetables and foods high in fibre; eating red meat and processed meats in moderation; and avoiding or stopping smoking.