April Cancer Awareness

April is both Bowel Cancer and Testicular Cancer Awareness Month

BOWEL CANCER

Bowel Cancer the fourth most common cancer in the UK. Every 15 minutes someone is diagnosed with the disease, that’s nearly 43,000 people each year.

What is Bowel cancer?

Bowel cancer means cancer that starts in the large bowel (colon) and the back passage (rectum). It is also known as colorectal cancer. Your treatment depends on where the cancer starts in your bowel.

Bowel cancer is also the UK’s second biggest cancer killer, however it shouldn’t be because it’s treatable and curable especially if diagnosed early. Nearly everyone survives bowel cancer if diagnosed at the earliest stage but this drops significantly as the disease develops. Early diagnosis really does save lives.

That’s why we’re supporting Bowel Cancer Awareness Month to raise awareness of the symptoms of bowel cancer:

  • bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo
  • a persistent and unexplained change in bowel habit
  • unexplained weight loss
  • extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
  • a pain or lump in your tummy

Most people with these symptoms don’t have bowel cancer. Other health problems can cause similar symptoms. But if you have one or more of these, or if things just don’t feel right, see your GP.

On the run up to seeing your GP you might like to make a note of any changes in your bowel habits or any other symptoms. Keeping a diary of your symptoms can help you remember the details when you’re speaking to your GP. See your GP within three weeks of noticing any change in your bowels. If you have any bleeding from the opening of your back passage (anus) you should see your GP straight away.

During the appointment, your GP will ask you some questions about your symptoms. You can get ready for your appointment by thinking about your answers to some of the following questions.

  • When did you first notice your symptoms?
  • Do your symptoms come and go?
  • Have you noticed any blood in your bowel movements (poo) or on the toilet paper?
  • Do you have any pain when you go to the toilet?
  • Do you have pain in your stomach area?
  • Does your stomach feel more full than usual (bloated)?
  • Is your poo softer or harder than usual?
  • Are you going to the toilet more or less often than usual?
  • Do your symptoms wake you up at night?
  • Have you lost any weight recently?
  • Do you feel tired for no obvious reason?
  • Do you feel sick or get indigestion?

Your GP may also ask you whether there have been any changes in your life recently. For example, a change in your diet, any new medicines, any stress you might be under or any recent travel abroad.

They may ask you about any other illnesses or treatment you have had.

They will also ask about any close family history. Take as much information to your appointment as you can.

Even if you have no symptoms as part of the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme, patients aged 50+* to 74 are automatically sent a simple home testing kit every two years from NHS England to collect a small sample of poo to be checked for tiny amounts of blood which may be caused by cancer. The simple FIT (Faecal Immunochemical Test) kit is also available to those aged 75+ by calling the free bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60.

If you receive one of these tests we highly encourage you to take part. For instructions on how to use this kit please see the video below:

For more information on bowel cancer and for organisations dedicated to help and support please explore the following websites:

Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer is when abnormal cells in a testicle start to divide and grow in an uncontrolled way.

The testicles are part of the male reproductive systems and are made up of different types of cells. The type of cancer you have depends on the type of cell the cancer starts in.

Most testicular cancers develop in germ cells. These are the cells that make sperm.

Although still rare compared to other cancers, testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men aged between 15-45 years with around 2,200-2,300 men being diagnosed each year. It is more common in Caucasian males.

If found at an early stage a cure rate of 98% is usually possible and even when testicular cancer has spread to other areas of the body a cure can still be achieved. In fact according to recent research overall 96% of men diagnosed with any stage testicular cancer will be alive 10 years after treatment.

Most testicular cancers are found by men themselves or their partner, very few are found by a physician. This is why it’s important to be aware of what feels normal for you. By doing the monthly testicular self-exams, you should become familiar with your testicles thus making it easier to notice any changes. Get to know your body and see your GP if you notice any changes. Self-checking could save your life!

To read more about the look and feel of normal testicles, the symptoms of testicular cancer and diagnosing testicular cancer please click on the link below.

For a guide to checking yourself please click HERE to view a leaflet from the Oddballs Foundation.

Symptoms

The earliest warning signs of testicular cancer usually include the following:

  • A change in size or shape of a testicle.
  • Swelling or thickening of a testicle.
  • A firm, smooth, initially painless, slow-growing lump or hardness in a testicle.
  • A feeling of testicular heaviness.

Even if you’re worried about what the symptom might be, don’t delay seeing them. Your worry is unlikely to go away if you don’t make an appointment. The symptom might not be due to cancer. But if it is, the earlier it’s picked up the higher the chance of successful treatment. You won’t be wasting your doctor’s time.

Try not to be embarrassed. What you tell your GP is confidential. Doctors are used to discussing intimate problems and will try to put you at ease.

For more information on testicular cancer and for organisations dedicated to help and support please explore the following websites: