This is a post free from euphemisms and 19th century sensibilities, so I make no apologies if I offend any today! Because the annual Be Loud, be Clear awareness week for bowel cancer starts this Monday and culminates on the 30th with the launch of the government’s first TV campaign for bowel cancer. And as early detection is a matter of life or death, it’s about time we got to grips with all this embarrassment and help knock bowel cancer of its unwelcome top 2 slot for cancer deaths in the UK; we lag behind the rest of the world so something is going wrong in this genteel island me thinks.
No other language comes close to English with the sheer volume of euphemisms that you could safely say in front of your maiden aunt and most of them referring to our bodily functions! We have thankfully moved on from a time when terms for the parts of a chicken, such as breast, leg and thigh caused such anxiety and fainting spells that they had to be replaced with terms like drumstick, first joint and white meat. So it’s high time we were a bit louder and clearer about what’s going on with our bums and go and see our doctor urgently if we are suffering from these symptoms for 3 weeks or more;
- Bleeding from the bottom without any obvious reason. You may also notice other symptoms such as straining, soreness, lumps and itchiness around the back passage. These can often be caused by piles, but this is also a “red flag” symptom for urgent investigation, so it is very important to see your GP, who can take a full history and do an initial examination.
- A persistent change in bowel habit meaning any unexpected or unexplained change to your normal habits of going to the toilet and emptying your bowels. It can sometimes be problems with constipation, and feeling that your bowel is not completely empty. It is especially important if you are going to the toilet more often or experiencing looser stools and/or passing lots of clear, “jelly-like” mucus.
- Abdominal pain that is constant or which comes and goes. You should seek help immediately if it becomes severe.
- A lump in your tummy especially on the right hand side.
- Unexplained tiredness, dizziness & breathlessness (signs of anaemia).
- Unexpected and unexplained weight loss.
Beating Bowel Cancer also have an excellent film called the Bottom line which I wish I had been aware of and watched. http://www.beatingbowelcancer.org/bowel-cancer-symptoms.
Lecture over. Thank you for reading!