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Bowel cancer awareness reminder

09 April 2015

​​Islanders are being urged ‘Don’t rush to flush’ as Jersey takes an active part in Bowel Cancer Awareness month which runs throughout April.

The bowel screening team at Health and Social Services and colorectal nurses at Family Nursing and Home Care are teaming up to raise awareness amongst Islanders about the signs and symptoms of bowel cancer. They are aiming to let people know about what to look out for when they go to the toilet and encourage them to go to their GP if they have any unusual bowel symptoms. 

Colorectal (bowel) cancer is the third most common cause of cancer in Jersey causing, on average, 55 new cases diagnosed per year. 

Nine out of ten cases of bowel cancer can be treated successfully if diagnosed early.

Survival after one year from colorectal cancer has been increasing locally, with a five-year survival rate for women at 78%. For men, the five-year survival rate has increased from 72% a decade ago to 82%. 

Dr David Ng, Consultant Gastroenterologist at the General Hospital, said "Too few people talk about bowel cancer and it is still considered a taboo by many. Sometimes embarrassment can even stop people from getting the help they need. But if bowel cancer is caught early, it can be treated and, in most cases, cured, so it’s vital you don’t ignore your symptoms.

Symptoms to check for

“The ‘Don’t Rush to Flush’ campaign is about encouraging people to look in the toilet after they have used it to check for any early signs of bowel cancer. It’s important that you get to know what bowel habits are normal for you so you can spot any changes. A change in bowel habit lasting for three weeks or more, especially to looser or runny poo, needs to be checked by a doctor. Other symptoms to check for are any signs of bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo, unexplained weight loss, extreme tiredness for no obvious reason or a pain or lump in your tummy.

“Anyone experiencing any of these symptoms should go and see their GP as soon as possible. The longer you leave it, the bigger the problem becomes so seek help early.”

Free toilet rolls to raise awareness

During the campaign month, representatives from the Health department will be handing out free toilet rolls to the public on King Street on Saturday 18th April with wrapping that describes the signs and symptoms of bowel cancer.

Nurses will be available to talk to if you have any worries or concerns you would like to discuss or would lke to find out more.

Next week, there will be a further reminder in the form of an eye-catching banner at the Steam Clock reminding people 'Don't Rush To Flush'.

As well as looking out for signs and symptoms of bowel cancer, Islanders can help reduce their chances of getting bowel cancer by making small changes to their lifestyle like improving their diet (such as eating more fruit and vegetables), exercising more and stopping smoking. All these things will help lower your chances of developing the condition.

Finally, Islanders who receive their invitation for bowel screening in their 60th year are urged to take up the offer of screening. 

Minister for Health and Social Services, Senator Andrew Green, said “Bowel screening is an important issue, and a swift, practical way to ensure that you are healthy. I’d recommend any Islander who is sent a letter inviting them for a free bowel screening test to take up the appointment. It is a simple check which could save your life.”

In Jersey the screening programme uses the flexi-sig test to look for polyps which are growths in the bowel that are harmless at first but can sometimes develop into cancer if they’re not removed.

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