Beating Bowel Cancer At West Mid

Advice on how to spot the most common symptoms

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On Thursday 30 April, as Bowel Cancer Awareness Month came to an end, West Middlesex University Hospital held an information event in the hospital’s atrium to spread the word on beating bowel cancer.

Staff were on hand to provide advice and information on the condition and its symptoms, and there was also a chance for visitors to win a brand new bike courtesy of Moore’s Cycles, by taking part in an educational quiz.

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK and every year more than 40,000 people are diagnosed with the condition. It is the UK’s second most common cause of cancer death.

Dr Kevin Monahan, Consultant Gastroenterologist at West Middlesex, says: “If for the last three weeks you’ve had blood in your poo or it’s been looser, go and see your GP. We know that people are reluctant to visit their GP if they experience symptoms because they’re embarrassed and worried about wasting the doctor’s time, but it could save your life.”

A former patient at West Mid who was diagnosed with bowel cancer 7 years ago, said: “I had been experiencing some stomach pains and felt weaker than normal. I saw my GP and was prescribed some iron tablets, which I had heard can affect your stool so I took no notice when I saw blood in my poo. My stomach pains didn’t go away so I went back to my GP who performed a rectal exam and then referred me straight to West Mid. I was seen by a colorectal consultant who told me I had bowel cancer. I couldn’t believe it and I simply walked out - in hindsight the consultant must have thought me to be very rude!

“I didn’t tell a living soul about my cancer until after I had been operated on; I even lied about what operation I was having. I then underwent 6 months of chemotherapy which was the worst part of the whole thing. I was told at the end of the 6 months I would have a 20% chance of survival. I had the chemo and the 20% chance of survival increased to 80%. I was then put on an ‘investigation file’ for 5 years to have regular check-ups, and after 5 years of being clear of cancer I was discharged back to my GP.

“In the months and years after my diagnosis, I have spent a lot of time at the Mulberry Centre which has been a huge help to me. They offered me alternative treatments such as massages, and welcomed me to their group discussions where I could share my story. I gave advice and often people would come in and ask to speak to me specifically. I have also given talks and question and answer sessions to school groups, become a member of West Mid’s cancer user group, CUBE (Cancer, understanding by experience) and attended cancer board meetings as a patient representative.”

Further information is available at:

  • People are more at risk of developing bowel cancer if they are over 50, have a significant family history of bowel cancer, have polyps in the bowel, have longstanding inflammatory bowel disease or have Type 2 diabetes.
  • You can reduce your risk of developing bowel cancer by following a few simple guidelines:
    • Cut down on red and processed meats
    • Keep to a healthy weight and exercise regularly
    • Eat at least 5 portions of fruit and veg every day
    • Stop smoking
    • Consume no more than 14 units of alcohol per week for women, 21 for men
    • Take part in bowel screening when invited

May 8, 2015