21 April 2022
April is ‘Bowel Cancer Awareness’ Month. The Health Services Directorate’s Health Promotion and Oncology teams are working together to raise awareness of Bowel Cancer and to encourage its prevention, early detection and treatment.
This year’s campaign theme is ‘Never Too Young’. The ‘Never Too Young’ campaign was launched in the UK in 2013 and is leading the change for younger patients with Bowel Cancer.
Bowel Cancer also known as ‘Colorectal’ Cancer is the UK’s second biggest cancer killer and is one of the more prevalent cancers on St Helena. Bowel Cancer occurs mostly in the large bowel, which is made up of the colon and rectum, affecting anyone of any age. Although more predominant in those aged over 50, more than 2500 new cases are diagnosed each year in the UK in people under the age of 50.
The earlier Bowel Cancer is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat. Symptoms to look out for are:
• Bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your stool
• A persistent & unexplained change in bowel habit
• Unexplained weight loss
• Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
• Pain or lump in your tummy.
Most people with these symptoms don’t have Bowel Cancer. But if you have one or more of these, or if things just doesn’t feel right, go and see your doctor.
Bowel Cancer screening can save lives. Screening aims to detect Bowel Cancer at an early stage, when treatment has the best chance of working. The screening test used on St Helena is called ‘Faecal Occult Bloods’ which can be requested from the lab by your Doctor. Taking part in Bowel Cancer screening picks up cancers at an early stage and lowers your risk of dying from Bowel Cancer. Screening can also detect non-cancerous growths (polyps) in the bowel that may develop into cancer in the future.
Whilst we don’t know what causes most Bowel Cancers we do know these factors may increase the risk of developing Bowel Cancer:
• You are over the age of 50
• Family history of Bowel Cancer
• History of bowel polyps
• Having long standing inflammatory bowel disease
• Have type 2 diabetes.
• Leads an unhealthy lifestyle.
Scientists believe that around 54% of all Bowel Cancers could be prevented by having a healthier lifestyle. You can reduce your risk by:
• Avoiding processed meat and limiting intake of red meat
• Take action to be a healthy body weight
• Eat plenty of whole grains, pulses, vegetables and fruit
• Limiting your intake of alcohol
• Quit smoking.
As part of Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, the Health Promotion and Oncology teams are calling on St Helena Government staff, private businesses, and members of the public to join us and participate in a Mufti Day on Wednesday, 27 April 2022. Together we can raise further awareness and support for Bowel Cancer. Any collections of monies or donations can be made to the local ‘Cancer Awareness Charity.’ All those participating are asked to wear ‘Royal Blue’ to show your support.
21 April 2022