April marks Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, aiming to help raise awareness of one of the most common cancers in the United Kingdom and the second-leading cause of cancer deaths.

The earlier that bowel cancer is found, the easier it is to treat and the higher the chances of survival are. This makes knowing the symptoms of bowel cancer all the more important – as well as not delaying if and when you experience any of the symptoms.

Symptoms of Bowel Cancer:

  • A change in your bowel habits lasting 3 weeks or more
  • Bleeding from your bottom or blood or mucus in your poo
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
  • A pain or lump in your tummy.

Bowel screening is one of the best ways to detect bowel cancer at an early stage.  This can also help in detecting changes in the bowel that may lead to cancer in the future.

People who are aged between 56 and 74 (who are registered with an NHS GP) are invited to take part in bowel cancer screening, using the home test kit. This age will eventually change too, with plans ot lower screening ages to from 50 years old. Those who receive a home test kit will recieve it through the post every two years, and are asked to complete it in the comfort of your own home.

The test, called the FIT (Faecal Immunochemical Test) kit will ask you to collect a tiny sample of poo. This sample is returned using apre-paid envelope, and is then tested for traces of blood, which may not be visible to the naked eye. Blood is a possible sign of cancer, and if any is identified you will be invited to discuss further tests, such as a colonoscopy.

Those aged 75 and over can contact the bowel cancer screening helpline every 2 years to request a kit.

The South of Tyne Bowel Cancer Screening Service is a collaboration between Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust and South Tyneside and Sunderland Foundation Trust, serving communities across Gateshead, Sunderland and South Tyneside.  The service will be raising awareness of the bowel cancer screening programme throughout April and hosting a series awareness sessions with local businesses and events out in the community.

Events will take place at:

  • 13th April – Asda South Shields – 11:00am – 2:00pm
  • 28th April – Asda Bolden – 11:00am – 2:00pm

For further information about bowel screening contact the bowel cancer screening helpline via 0800 707 6060 or visit the Gateshead Health website.