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Islanders encouraged to talk about bowel issues

06 February 2012

Islanders are being reminded that they shouldn’t be embarrassed when discussing bowel habits with their GP.

The reminder comes as a 2 month long campaign launched last week in England called 'Be Clear On Cancer'. The campaign, which is backed by the UK’s Department of Health, aims to raise awareness of the early signs and symptoms of bowel cancer.

Adverts to back up the campaign, which targets men and women aged over 55, will feature in national newspapers, as well as on radio and TV, with the message that people find blood in their poo, or have loose poo for more than 3 weeks should speak to their GP.

Dr Susan Turnbull, Medical Officer of Health said "Although we will not be running a separate local campaign, the messages in the English campaign apply to everyone.  This is a great opportunity to raise awareness among Islanders, and perhaps persuade some people with these symptoms to get over their inhibitions and seek advice.  There is really no need to be embarrassed about talking to your GP about what is, after all, just a basic bodily function - they deal with issues like this every day, and are used to talking about it.

"Evidence shows that loose motions and bleeding from the back passage (rectum) are the most common symptoms in people diagnosed with bowel cancer, so talking about this early could help save your life if you do have symptoms.

"However, not everyone with these symptoms will have cancer – there are other possible causes – but it’s important to put embarrassment aside and talk to your GP if you are worried.   In Jersey, some people may be dying from bowel cancer, who could perhaps have survived if their cancer had been diagnosed earlier, when treatment has a better chance of curing it.  Doctors can’t diagnose bowel cancer if patients don’t tell them about the sort of warning symptoms that could point to it."

"Your GP, after taking the full history and examining you, can refer you to a cnsultant with specialist expertise in this area, for an expert opinion and further tests as needed."

Currently, routine bowel screening is not available in Jersey, but funding has been agreed now for this to begin in 2013.   


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