Ireland's 1st Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

  • Deborah Condon

At least one in three Irish people cannot name a single sign or symptom of bowel cancer despite the fact that the disease kills over 900 people in Ireland every year.

According to the Irish Cancer Society (ICS), 36% of people cannot name any signs or symptoms of the disease, while 25% are unaware of what factors might increase their risk of developing it.

These facts were highlighted to coincide with the launch of Ireland’s first ever Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, which will run throughout April. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the disease’s signs and symptoms and will include a series of events, as well as extensive media advertising.

“The aim of this campaign is to save lives by letting people know what the early signs and symptoms of this cancer are and to press for a screening programme which would certainly save lives by finding the cancer early,” explained Kathleen O’Meara of the ICS.

Cancer of the bowel (colon and rectum) is the second most common cause of cancer death in Ireland, after lung cancer. Around 2,100 new cases are diagnosed and 900 people die from the disease every year. Over 50% of people are diagnosed when the disease is already at an advanced stage, leaving them with a poorer change of survival.

“These alarming statistics highlight the urgent need to increase the awareness of the incidence of bowel cancer, early signs and symptoms and the absolute necessity for early detection to improve chances of survival,” Ms O’Meara said.

Symptoms of the disease can include:
-A change in your normal bowel motion, such as diarrhoea or constipation.
-A feeling that you have not emptied your bowel fully after a motion.
-Pain or discomfort in your abdomen or back passage.
-Weight loss.

For more information on bowel cancer, call the ICS helpline at 1800 200 700 or click on…http://www.cancer.ie/cancerInfo/colorectal_cancer_information.php?r=1

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