April is bowel cancer awareness month and health organisations across Leeds are urging people to be more aware of the signs.

Although progress has been made bowel cancer is the four most common form of cancer in the UK and the second biggest killer. More than 42,000 people are diagnosed with it every year and 268,000 people are currently living with the disease.

Although more common in older people it can strike at any age, so the NHS wants everyone to watch out for the signs.

“Despite incidences of bowel cancer steadily falling in the last decade, unfortunately, cases of bowel cancer are still too common. 1 in 15 men and 1 in 18 women will be diagnosed with bowel cancer during their lifetime. If it’s caught early, however, there’s a really good chance of recovery,” said Dr Sarah Forbes, Associate Medical Director at NHS Leeds CCG and joint clinical lead for the Leeds Cancer Programme. “While the disease is more common in people over the age of 50, bowel cancer can affect at any age with more than 2,500 people under the age of 50 being diagnosed in the UK every year. It’s never been more important to make people from every age group aware of the symptoms.”

Symptoms include:

  • Blood in your poo
  • Diarrhoea or constipation for no obvious reason
  • A feeling of not having fully emptied your bowels after going to the toilet
  • Pain in your stomach or back passage (anus)
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Having these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you have bowel cancer, but it does mean you should check them out.

Although it can be deadly survival rates increase dramatically the earlier it is diagnosed. To this end the Leeds Cancer Programme has recently introduced an easier and improved bowel cancer screening test called the Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT test). This test can be given to patients by their GP which to complete in their own home.

For more information on screening and symptoms go to NHS website at

www.nhs.uk/conditions/bowel-cancer/ or visit Bowel Cancer UK.