April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and Martin Whitfield MSP is joining other elected representatives to help raise awareness of its symptoms.

Bowel cancer is a broad term for cancer that begins in the large bowel, which is made up of the colon and rectum. Bowel cancer is more common in people over the age of 50, but it can affect anyone of any age.

In Scotland the bowel cancer screening programme is available for people aged 50 to 74 and it is vital that anyone eligible participates in this. However, it is still important to be aware of the symptoms, whether you are over 50 or not.

Bowel Cancer UK is raising awareness with its #KnowTheHigh5 symptoms, which are:

  • Bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo
  • A persistent and unexplained change in bowel habit
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
  • A pain or lump in your tummy

It is important to know that most people with these symptoms do not have bowel cancer. Other health problems can cause similar symptoms. But if you have any of these, or if things just do not feel right, you should visit your GP.

Supporting the awareness campaign, Martin Whitfield MSP said: 

“In the UK one person is diagnosed with bowel cancer every 15 minutes. However, bowel cancer is both treatable and curable if diagnosed at the earliest stages, which is why symptom awareness is so important.

“Of course, anyone who can use the screening programme should do so, but general awareness is also very important. Knowing the symptoms and acting on them as quickly as possible could mean that if you do have bowel cancer, it may be diagnosed earlier when it’s much easier to treat. 

“Doctors are used to seeing lots of people with bowel problems. So please don’t be embarrassed and don’t ignore any symptoms.”

Take Bowel Cancer UK’s quiz and learn the signs at www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk/support-us/bowel-cancer-awareness-month/quiz.