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Bowel cancer awareness: campaign to prevent people dying from embarrassment! 5 April 2006

April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and the public are being urged not to sit on their symptoms. Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in both the UK and the Isle of Man. The tragedy is that the number of deaths from bowel cancer could easily be reduced - if caught in its early stages it is one of the most curable cancers, with survival rates over 90%.

On the 20th April a presentation will be given for the general public by Julia Kennedy, a representative from Bowel Cancer UK, at 11.30 a.m. at Keyll Darree, DHSS Education and Training Centre, (Noble’s Hospital Site), Strang.

The information is designed to tackle the embarrassment factor by getting people talking about ‘bowels’, increasing people’s awareness of the symptoms of bowel cancer, encouraging them to visit their GP when faced with symptoms and highlighting the ways people can reduce their risk.

Recent research found that 84% of the UK population would rather sit on their bowel cancer symptoms than discuss them. Although 75% of people were aware of the importance of both routine screening and early diagnosis, 84% felt embarrassed by bowel problems to such an extent that they would delay seeing their doctor to discuss them.

Carole Cringle, the Island’s Colorectal/Stoma Care Nurse Specialist, said:

"We are often shy and embarrassed to talk about our bottoms and bowels. Only a few years ago, people were embarrassed to talk about breasts. Now breast cancer awareness is part of everyday life and the embarrassment factor has gone. We hope the same will soon happen with bowel cancer. We are trying to raise awareness so that people will talk more openly. Bowel cancer is one of the most curable cancers if caught early enough".

The campaign also includes information about ways to reduce your risk of bowel cancer, including: eating at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, eating high fibre foods, cutting down on fats as well as processed and red meat, and taking regular exercise. Bowel Cancer UK is determined to encourage people to break the silence and start talking about bowel cancer. Their campaign, Don’t blush….look before you flush, is designed to be attention-grabbing, with images and text that some people may find controversial.

The main symptoms people are being urged to look out for include: blood or mucus in their bowel motion and a persistent change in bowel habit (such as looser, more diarrhoea-like motions, going to the toilet more often, or trying to go). These are often caused by problems much less serious than bowel cancer, but need to be checked out by a GP. Other symptoms include unexplained weight loss, a lump or swelling in their tummy, tiredness or breathlessness without obvious reason and pain that comes and goes in waves.

Patient Information posters and information, including a Colontastic Quiz will be distributed to Pharmacies, GP surgeries and large employee workplaces.

For more information, contact Michelle Flanagan, telephone 642668,

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