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Bowel cancer – Early detection to save lives

March 1st 2021 marks the launch of the “Blue March” campaign, a month of mobilisation against bowel cancer, initiated each year by the Colorectal Cancer Alliance.

It’s an opportunity for the Oncovia team to remind people of the absolute necessity to take part in organized screening.

Every year in the United Kingdom, 42,000 new cases of bowel cancer are detected. It is the fourth most common cancer in the United Kingdom and the 2nd most frequent cancer in women, after breast cancer. It is also the 2nd most deadly cancer for both men and women, whereas early detection considerably increases the chances of cure*.

“When done in time, screening leads to cure.”

Colorectal cancer develops slowly, often without any apparent signs or symptoms. It affects both women and men. Eight out of ten people who are diagnosed are older than 60 years old.

Every year in the United Kingdom, around 268 000 people have been diagnosed with bowel cancer.  However, the numbers of people dying from this decease has been failing since the 1970. This is probably due to early diagnosis and better treatment.

A more reliable, simple (quick and painless) test, to be carried out at home.

 A free faecal immunological test is offered between the ages of 60 to 74, regardless of family and medical history or possible risk factors. A stool collection kit (consisting of a tube and a stick) is sent automatically at home by the doctor every 2 years.

The device is very simple and limits handling. Once you have sent the completed kit to the laboratory to be tested, the results are sent out by post two weeks later. An extremely simple gesture to reassure oneself or avoid the worst!

98% of the tests show reassuring results and only 2% of them require further examination.

Only 2% of the tests reveal the presence of blood in the stool, requiring additional tests such as a colonoscopy. Painless and performed under anesthesia, this examination allows you to explore the inside of the colon and rectum. The objective is to detect and remove any lesions or polyps for analysis. This examination is also offered to anyone with a history of adenomas or colorectal cancer.

If there is a family history, or warning signs, increased vigilance is required.

It is recommended to have a colonoscopy test for bowel cancer every 5 years from the age of 40 to 75, if you have three close relatives that have had bowel cancer.

It is also important to be aware of warning signs.

if you have repetitive diarrhea, constipation (or an alternation of the two), recurrent abdominal pain… And especially if there is blood in the stool (bright red or very dark), you should consult your doctor immediately.

What about prevention?

Like for other cancers, usual hygiene-dietary rules are recommended to prevent colorectal cancer. Avoid tobacco and alcohol, adopt a balanced diet (encourage the consumption of fibre, limit the consumption of red meat, delicatessen products)…