City cancer support charity Liverpool Sunflowers is urging people to educate themselves on the signs and symptoms of bowel cancer as April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month.
The disease is the UK’s second biggest cancer killer, but experts say but it shouldn’t be, as it is very treatable, particularly when diagnosed early.
Almost 40,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer in the UK every year; and more than 16,250 people die each year of the disease. It mostly affects older people, with 95% of all diagnoses in people over the age of 50.
If discovered at the earliest stage, there is a survival rate of more than 90%. So this April, the charity is urging anyone concerned about the symptoms of bowel cancer to visit their GP.
Joan Elmer, project director at Liverpool Sunflowers, and a cancer survivor herself, said:
“At Sunflowers, we support patients and their families affected by all types of cancer. We see a huge number of benefits for patients who have been diagnosed with the same cancer type meeting to share their experiences, and offer a range of free support groups and alternative therapies that can really compliment medical support offered by the NHS.
“There’s many reasons why bowel cancer is something that often isn’t talked about or picked up until it could be too late, and that is why raising awareness of what to look for is so important.”
Symptoms of bowel cancer can include changes in usual bowel habits, extreme tiredness with no known cause, bleeding from the rectum or blood in stools, and feelings of pain or a lump in the stomach. Health professionals say that in most cases, these symptoms will not be cancer, but you are needn’t feel you are wasting your GP’s time by making sure.
Any patient who has had a cancer diagnosis in Merseyside is welcome to access the services of Sunflowers, as well as their families and carers – which the charity also provides emotional support to.
Sunflowers provides advice and guidance services, counseling, alternative therapies and group support sessions in a welcoming and safe environment. The service is confidential, free and led by a team of professionals.
Joan says: “Our shared experiences help to build a strong community in the fight against cancer. This is particularly important in Merseyside, which has one of the highest rates for cancer in the UK.”
Due to high levels of demand, the charity will also be launching a Bowel Cancer Support group later this month. Anyone that would like to register their interest in this can do so by emailing Joan Elmer at firstname.lastname@example.org.