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Never too young to look out for symptoms

22 April 2014

A consultant at West Middlesex University Hospital is advising people that they are never too young to go to their GP if they have symptoms linked to bowel cancer.

A consultant at West Middlesex University Hospital is advising people that they are never too young to go to their GP if they have symptoms linked to bowel cancer.

Consultant Gastroenterologist, Dr Kevin Monahan is speaking out in support of a national campaign­ - ‘Never Too Young’ - by Bowel Cancer UK that aims to raise awareness of bowel cancer in patients under the age of 50.

Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in the UK for men and the second most common cancer for women. Every year more than 30,000 people will develop it. An estimated 13,000 people die annually from bowel cancer.

People in higher risk groups such as those with a strong family history of bowel cancer are likely to develop bowel cancer much younger than the general population.  Genetic factors contribute up to 30% of bowel cancer cases; an estimated 8,000-12,000 cases every year.

Inherited conditions such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or Lynch syndrome can also increase your chance of developing bowel cancer. People with long-term inflammatory bowel disease are also at higher risk.

Dr Monahan says: “If for the last three weeks you’ve had blood in your poo or it’s been looser, go and see your GP. We know that people are reluctant to visit their GP if they experience symptoms because they’re embarrassed and worried about wasting the doctor’s time but it could save your life.

 

“Over 90 per cent of bowel cancer patients diagnosed with the earliest stage of the disease survive five years from diagnosis compared with only 6.6 per cent of those diagnosed with advanced disease.

“Many people worry about getting bowel cancer, sometimes because a relative has had it. At West Middlesex we run a Family History of Bowel Cancer Clinic specifically for those people who may be at higher risk of developing the disease.

“The cause of most bowel cancers is not known, but we do know that some risk factors such as a strong family history can increase your chances of developing cancer. This includes having one close relative aged under 50 or at least two close relatives on the same side of the family who developed bowel cancer at any age.

“If these apply to your family and you’re worried about your risk of developing bowel cancer, you may want to talk to your GP. If your GP thinks there’s a chance you may have an increased risk of developing bowel cancer because of your family history, they can refer you to the Family History of Bowel Cancer Clinic here or elsewhere for advice and treatment.” 

Further information is available at Dr Monahan’s website:  http://familyhistorybowelcancer.wordpress.com/