John Spellar MP

Member of Parliament for Warley

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John Spellar MP pledges to help charity raise awareness of screening in Sandwell during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month in April

As April marks Bowel Cancer Awareness Month Sandwell MP John Spellar is supporting a call by leading research charity Bowel Cancer UK, urging more people to take part in bowel cancer screening and help save lives.

Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in the UK, affecting both men and women. Every year over 41,000 people (one every 15 minutes) are diagnosed with bowel cancer and 16,200 people die of the disease.

Bowel cancer screening can save lives but at the moment in some areas of the UK only a third of those who receive a test complete it. Thousands of people are missing out on the chance to detect bowel cancer early when it is easier to treat.

John Spellar MP said, “As the local MP, I am totally committed to improving uptake rates for bowel cancer screening, both locally and nationally.

“I would urge my constituents who are sent a bowel screening test to use it.  Taking part in bowel cancer screening is the best way to get diagnosed early.  If you are over 60, take the test when you receive it in the post. If you are younger, tell the people over 60 in your life to take the test. Early diagnosis really can save lives.” 

Deborah Alsina, Chief Executive of Bowel Cancer UK, said, “I’d like to thank John Spellar MP for supporting our campaign during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month to raise participation levels for bowel cancer screening.

“One in 14 men and one in 19 women will be diagnosed with bowel cancer during their lifetime but it is treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early.”

The NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme (and its equivalent in each of the home nations) can detect bowel cancer at an early stage in people with no symptoms when it is easier to treat. Since its launch 10 years ago, it has been proven to save lives. If you’re registered with a GP and aged 60-74, you will receive a test in the post every two years. You carry out the simple test at home in private and it comes with step by step instructions. The test looks for hidden blood in your poo, which could be an early sign of bowel cancer.

Visit Bowel Cancer UK’s website to find out how you can get involved in their campaign for Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, bowelcanceruk.org.uk.

About Bowel Cancer UK

Bowel Cancer UK is the UK’s leading bowel cancer research charity, determined to save lives and improve the quality of life for all those affected by bowel cancer. The charity supports and influences research, educates patients, the public and professionals about bowel cancer and campaigns for early diagnosis and best treatment and care for all those affected. For more information, visit bowelcanceruk.org.uk

About bowel cancer

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK and the second biggest cancer killer, affecting both men and women. Every 15 minutes in the UK someone is diagnosed with bowel cancer. That’s over 41,000 people every year.

Symptoms of bowel cancer include:

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

Most people with these symptoms don’t have bowel cancer. 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. 

Risk factors

We don’t know what causes most bowel cancers, but we do know that some factors increase your risk of getting the disease. Some of these are things you can’t do anything about, for example, age and genetics. But you can make changes to your lifestyle to lower your risk of getting bowel cancer.

You are more at risk of getting bowel cancer if you have one or more of the following risk factors. This doesn’t mean that you will definitely get bowel cancer. Equally, if you don’t have any risk factors, it doesn’t mean you can’t get bowel cancer.

  • Aged over 50
  • A strong family history of bowel cancer
  • A history of non-cancerous growths (polyps) in your bowel
  • Longstanding inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • An unhealthy lifestyle

Scientists think that around half (54 per cent) of all bowel cancers could be prevented by having a healthier lifestyle. You can reduce your risk by eating a healthier diet, taking more exercise, cutting down on alcohol and stopping smoking.

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