In this episode the panel discuss the signs and symptoms to look out for, knowing what’s normal for you, and the importance of taking part in the national bowel cancer screening programme.
Lauren Swankie, National Cancer Campaign Manager
You may feel extreme tiredness or loss of appetite for a few weeks, without any reason. You may also bleed from the bottom or have blood in the stool. You may notice a change in bowel habits or have a pain in your tummy, or pain when you go to the toilet. Any changes, you should report them to your GP as soon as possible. You should not wait. I think it’s safer to get yourself checked out.
I was on a three year colonoscopy check because I had a polyp removed back in 2009. I went to the doctors in March 2012 with blood and it was diagnosed as haemorrhoids, so I waited until my colonoscopy in the October. Symptoms hadn’t reduced as it happens, and that’s when the tumour was found all the way round my colon.
I’m very thankful that I was up for a three yearly colonoscopy check because otherwise it might not have been the case. It might not have been diagnosed and treated as soon as it was.
I think another important thing to say is actually to look in the toilet after you go to the loo, which we aren’t very good at doing.
There are publically available screening programmes across the UK, from aged 60 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and aged 50 in Scotland. You will get a kit sent to you in the post and you will be asked to take three samples of your poo in your own home, and then post it back to get the results of the screening.
The screening programme is universal. You don’t have to be identified as high risk.
You know your body, if you are worried, then do be insistent, be assertive about getting a referral for further tests.
The vagus nerve which is in your gut actually sends messages to your brain, rather than the other way around, so although we call it a gut feeling, and it’s sort of gone in common parlance, it’s actually got a very solid scientific background and actually gut feelings should be taken very seriously.