Cornwall LivingIssue #120
Be an early detector
As April is bowel cancer awareness month, Duchy Hospital offers advice around Colorectal Cancer detection and treatment.
We talk to Consultant Colorectal Surgeons, Mr Faux and Mrs Feldman, who have given us information, advice and tips on what to look for.
Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in the UK and yet if detected early it can be treated successfully with a high chance of cure. The difficulty is that it can be hard to spot at an early stage and Bowel Cancer Awareness Month aims to help us all know when to seek help. Symptoms include blood in the poo or from the bottom, unexplained changes in bowels, anaemia, lumps in the bottom or the abdomen, weight loss or abdominal pain. When any of these are present GPs can fast track patients for tests; Cornwall’s fast track service is run by specialist nurses and is a national exemplar. However, for some people there are no signs at all at an early stage. The National Bowel Cancer Screening Programme is an effective way to improve our chances, as individuals, and for the population as a whole.
The Bowel Cancer Screening Programme is offered from age 60 to 75 but over the next few years will be offered from age 50. If blood is found in the poo sample, a consultation is offered to discuss colonoscopy or sometimes CT scans. Early cancers are sometimes removed at the time of a colonoscopy with no further treatment needed. Surgery itself is usually completed in a keyhole fashion and most patients having surgery will not need to have a stoma (bag) at any point. In Cornwall almost two thirds of patients stayed in hospital five days or less to have their cancer operation.
The county has a single hospital trust and a single private care provider. All patients who develop colon cancer have treatment planned on an individual basis by the multi-disciplinary team at the Royal Cornwall Hospital.
So, take up every offer of screening and if you notice changes in the way your bowels work, lumps, pain or blood, call your GP. Alternatively, call the Private Patient team at Duchy Hospital to book a consultation with one of the Consultant Colorectal Surgeons, on 01872 438079.