Beating bowel cancer together

Jeremy Bowen prompts thousands to seek NHS bowel cancer advice

A clincian has praised our Patron and BBC news editor Jeremy Bowen for raising awareness of bowel cancer, saying his actions will help save lives, after the number of people seeking information on the disease from the official NHS website almost trebled. 

Celia Ingham-Clark, Medical Director for clinical effectiveness at NHS England and a leading bowel specialist, thanked the BBC’s Middle East editor for urging people to get checked for bowel cancer, adding that testing early can be a lifesaver.

Alongside the charity’s Chief Executive, Deborah Alsina MBE, Jeremy Bowen spoke to BBC Breakfast on Monday 1 April to discuss his own diagnosis for the disease and support our campaign for an optimal bowel cancer screening programme.

Jeremy Bowen said: “I spoke out to encourage people to get tested. You can be cured of bowel cancer if you catch it early. Don’t be embarrassed, ask your doctor.”

His decision to speak out on Monday, which coincided with bowel cancer awareness month, helped to drive thousands of people to the NHS website’s bowel cancer information page.

There were 4,735 visits to the page on that day alone, up from 1,639 visits over the previous 24 hours and more than double last year’s average of 1,816 daily page views. 

Spotting more cancers earlier when they are easier to treat, is a key part of the NHS Long Term Plan which aims to increase the numbers of cancers diagnosed at stages one and two, from half to three quarters over the next 10 years.

When bowel cancer is diagnosed at the earliest stage, more than nine out of 10 people survive for a decade or more. However this drops significantly as the disease develops. Early diagnosis really does save lives.

Deborah Alsina MBE, Chief Executive of Bowel Cancer UKsaid: “We are incredibly grateful to our Patron, Jeremy Bowen for speaking so openly about his bowel cancer diagnosis. It’s only by talking publicly about this disease and raising awareness that we can encourage more people to take action if they have concerns.  

“Every year in the UK, nearly 42,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer, making it the UK’s second biggest cancer killer. Being aware of the symptoms and visiting your GP if things don’t feel right can help increase chances of an early diagnosis. 

“Your doctor sees people with bowel concerns every day so there is nothing to be embarrassed about. It could save your life.  It is also important that people, without symptoms, take part in the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme when invited to do so as this provides the best chance of an early diagnosis.”

Celia Ingham-Clark, medical director for clinical effectiveness at NHS England and a leading bowel specialist, said: “A big thank you is owed to Jeremy Bowen for talking about his bowel cancer diagnosis and encouraging people to get tested.  It’s vital to get worrying symptoms checked out as soon as possible so something serious can be ruled out, or people can be referred for testing and treatment. 

“As a nation we need to stop being so prudish about poo. How often someone goes and consistency, or finding blood in poo, can be an early indicator that something isn’t right. Our trips to the toilet can give vital clues to our health which shouldn’t be ignored.”

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