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​Colorectal Cancer can be a silent killer

April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, aimed to highlight the importance of early diagnosis in tackling one of the most prominent forms of cancer. Bowel cancer is a common type of cancer in both men and women. About 1 in 20 people will get it during their lifetime and currently cancer affects more than 40,000 people a year in the UK.

It is important that if you are 55 or over you are scheduling an appointment for a screening. Screening can help detect bowel cancer at an early stage, when it's easier to treat.  

  • When you are 55, you will be invited for a one-off if you're 55, you'll automatically be invited for a one-off bowel scope screening test
  • If you are 60 to 74, you will automatically be invited to do a home testing kit every 2 years

Dr Adrian McLachlan, NHS Lambeth Clinical Commissioning Group, said: "Colorectal cancer can be treated effectively if caught early enough and people can minimise the risk by following simple advice including diet and exercise.

"Those aged 55 and older will be automatically contacted about screening but if you have any symptoms or concerns, contact your GP straight away."

Symptoms can include:

  • persistent blood in the stools – that occurs for no obvious reason or is associated with a change in bowel habit
  • a persistent change in your bowel habit – which usually means going more often, with looser stools
  • persistent lower abdominal (tummy) pain, bloating or discomfort – that's always caused by eating and may be associated with loss of appetite or significant unintentional weight loss

If you're unsure whether to see your GP, try the bowel cancer symptom checker.

Read more about NHS screening for bowel cancer.

We encourage Lambeth residents to seek advice on how to minimise the risk of bowel cancer here. The South East London Cancer Help Centre  also provides an excellent source of advice and support outside the NHS with many of its staff having survived cancer.