Looking after your bowel health can save your life, the Irish Cancer Society has said, as new figures show that the number of people in Ireland diagnosed with bowel cancer is set to double by 2045. The Society is encouraging people to check their bowel health by using their online bowel health checker. Bowel Cancer Awareness Month takes place this April. This year it is estimated that up to 2,800 people, including almost 700 people in Dublin, will be diagnosed with this disease, and more than 1,000 people will die from it. However, with a growing, ageing population, the National Cancer Registry projects the number of diagnoses to reach over 5,700 nationwide by 2045.
Joan Kelly, Cancer Support Manager with the Irish Cancer Society said, “Bowel cancer most commonly occurs in people over 60 years of age and is often diagnosed in the later stages. However, if bowel cancer is caught early, it is extremely treatable. Recent figures showed us that 95% of people diagnosed at Stage 1 were alive 5 years later[3]. That is good news but this is not the case for people diagnosed with stage 3 and 4 bowel cancer. We need to work towards increasing the number of people diagnosed in the early stages”. “To do this, the public need to be aware of the main signs and symptoms such as changes in bowel motions, feeling bloated, pain or discomfort in your tummy, or blood in stools. We would encourage anyone in Dublin who might be interested in checking their bowel health to take our easy to do online Bowel Health Checker which can be found at www.cancer.ie/bowelhealth. It’s a quick questionnaire and includes a letter which can be brought to your GP.”

Kelly concluded, “The second way we can increase the numbers diagnosed early is by going for bowel screening when called. The majority of bowel cancer cases occur in men but only 37% of eligible males have availed of the State’s free screening programme – BowelScreen, compared to 46% of women. It is vital that people avail of this free, life-saving service that is offered to everyone aged between 60 and 69. A healthy lifestyle and a diet, high in fibre and wholegrains, can also help to reduce your risk of developing bowel cancer.”

To speak to a cancer nurse on any aspect of bowel cancer contact the Cancer Nurseline on Freephone 1800 200 700, email cancernurseline@irishcancer.ie  or drop into one of our Daffodil Centres in Beaumont, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, St. James’s Hospital, St. Luke’s Hospital, St. Vincent’s University Hospital or the Hermitage Medical Clinic in Lucan.

For more information on BowelScreen call Freephone 1800 45 45 55 or visit www.bowelscreen.ie