Bowel cancer is a term used to describe cancer in the colon, rectum or the small bowel.
The symptoms of bowel cancer can include:
- Bleeding from the back passage (rectum) or blood in your stools
- A change in normal bowel habits to diarrhoea or looser stools, lasting longer than 4 to 6 weeks
- A lump that your doctor can feel in your back passage or abdomen (more commonly on the right side)
- A feeling of needing to strain in your back passage (as if you needed to pass a bowel motion)
- Losing weight
- Pain in your abdomen or back passage
- A lower than normal level of red blood cells (anaemia)
Because bowel tumours can bleed, cancer of the bowel often causes a shortage of red blood cells. This is called anaemia and may cause tiredness and sometimes breathlessness.
Bowel cancer screening
How do I get a screening kit?
If you are aged 60-69 years, you will be sent your screening invitation automatically through the post. All you need to do is make sure that your GP has your correct address.
‘People aged 70 years and over or under the age of 60, who wish to be screened, should request a kit. Simply telephone the free helpline on 0800 707 60 60.’
Macmillan cancer support
Have questions about cancer? Visit the website, or call 0808 808 000 free (Monday to Friday 9am – 8pm).
The National Breast Screening Programme was introduced in 1988 as an early detection service for breast cancer. It states that all women who are aged between 50 – 70 years of age will be routinely invited for free breast screening every three years. The programme is very successful and currently saves around 1,400 lives per year.
Breast screening aims to find breast cancer at an early stage, often before there are any symptoms. To do this, an x-ray is taken of each breast (mammogram). Early detection may often mean simpler and more successful treatment. When women are invited for their mammogram depends on which GP they are registered with, not when their birthday is.
The screening office runs a rolling programme which invites women by area. The requirement is that all women will receive their first invitation before their 53rd birthday, but ideally when they are 50. If you are under 50 and concerned about any aspect of breast care, please contact the surgery to make an appointment with your GP.
Cervical screening test
Cervical screening, or smear test, is a method of detecting abnormal (pre-cancerous) cells in the cervix in order to prevent cervical cancer. The cervix is the entrance to the womb from the vagina. Cervical screening is recommended every three years for women aged 25 to 49 and every five years for women aged 50 to 64 or more frequently if smear results indicates abnormal changes.
Cervical screening is not a test for cancer; it is a test to check the health of the cells of the cervix. Most women’s test results show that everything is normal, but for 1 in 20 women the test will show some abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix.
Most of these changes will not lead to cervical cancer and the cells may go back to normal on their own. However, in some cases, the abnormal cells need to be treated to prevent them becoming cancerous.
Our nurses are qualified to carry out cervical screening and tests in the form of cervical smears. In order to have a cervical smear the patient must have received a letter requesting that they have a cervical smear and the appointment must please be made for when the patient is not menstruating.
These appointments typically take around 10 minutes. For any further information or to book an appointment, please call the surgery.