Early diagnosis of bowel cancer is vital says survivor

Paul Mohan (54 ), bowel cancer survivor, is urging people to get checked out if they experience any of the symptoms of bowel cancer as early detection saves lives.

Mohan said, “As a diabetic, I have regular health checks. When something showed up in my routine bloods I wasn’t too worried but they repeated the tests and when I started passing blood my GP sent me for a colonoscopy which revealed I had cancer.

"I had surgery followed by 12 sessions of chemotherapy but thankfully I am in remission now. I would encourage everyone to get any unusual symptoms checked out as detecting and treating the cancer early is the key.”

At the launch of its annual Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, the Irish Cancer Society has said that more than 2,700 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year in Ireland, and approximately 96 of these cases are in Mayo. More than 1,000 people die from the disease every year, making it the second most common cause of cancer death in Ireland.

Kevin O’Hagan, cancer prevention manager with the Irish Cancer Society, said: “Bowel cancer most commonly occurs in people over 60 years of age and is often diagnosed in the later stages. However, if bowel cancer is caught early, it is extremely treatable so we would encourage people to be aware of the signs and symptoms and to take our online bowel health checker: www.cancer.ie/bowelhealth "

Mr O’Hagan added: “Worryingly, 60 per cent of bowel cancer cases occur in men but only 35 per cent of eligible males have availed of the State’s free screening programme- BowelScreen, compared to 45 per cent of women. It is vital that people avail of the free service that is offered every two years to men and women aged between 60 and 69 as screening plays an important role in diagnosing cancers. A healthy lifestyle and a diet high in fibre, can also help to reduce your risk of developing bowel cancer.”

The symptoms of bowel cancer include: (1 ) A change in your normal bowel motion, such as diarrhoea or constipation; (2 ) Feeling you have not emptied your bowel fully after a motion; (3 ) Pain or discomfort in your abdomen (tummy ) or back passage; (4 ) Trapped wind or fullness in your tummy; (5 ) Weight loss; (6 ) Tired and breathless (due to anaemia from blood loss ); and (7 ) Rectal bleeding or blood in stools. These symptoms can also be due to complaints other than bowel cancer. But do get them checked out by your doctor, especially if they last for more than four to six weeks.

To speak to a cancer nurse on any aspect of bowel cancer contact the Cancer Nurseline on Freephone (1800 ) 200700, email [email protected], or drop into one of the 13 Daffodil centres in hospitals nationwide. For locations and opening times email [email protected]. For more information on BowelScreen call Freephone (1800 ) 45 45 55 or visit www.bowelscreen.ie

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