Scottish Cancer Prevention Network | Putting Prevention First


Bowel Screening

Investigating Bowel Symptoms – Remember the Rule of Sixths


The many charities involved in increasing public awareness of bowel cancer achieve excellent results. The symptoms of bowel cancer are documented in simple terms, such as: bleeding from your bottom or blood in your poo, a change in bowel habit lasting for three weeks or more, unexplained weight loss or extreme tiredness for no obvious reason and severe abdominal pain. They also suggest that, if concerned about such symptoms, an appointment should be made with the GP. They, and the “Detect Cancer Early” and “Be Clear on Cancer” campaigns, emphasise that getting checked is not a waste of time, particularly because the earlier a bowel cancer is detected, the better the outcome.

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What If?

As a child, I was always considered nosey – asking big questions, little questions and all sort of questions that annoy adults. Some of my family just avoided me, but some liked to be asked things and had tales to tell. One night, my aunt decided to indulge me, and responded well to being asked about my grandmother. She told lots of stories about her work, how she coped with hardship on the farm, her baking, her favourite things and then how she died. Forty odd years on I don’t remember many of the details, but I do remember the nightmares I had when I thought about the details of how bowel cancer had killed her, and desperately wishing I hadn’t asked.

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Faecal Tests for Blood – Think FIT, not FOB!

Most cancers are detected or suspected in primary care after consultation with a GP. NICE published “Referral guidelines for suspected cancer” (CG27) in 2005. There have been many advances in the last decade and NICE prepared a document on “Suspected cancer: recognition and management of suspected cancer in children, young people and adults” in November 2014. This has been out for consultation and is expected in May 2015.

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