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Don’t delay contacting a GP if you have signs and symptoms of bowel cancer

Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in the UK, more than 100 people are diagnosed with it everyday.

Bowel cancer is very treatable but the earlier it’s diagnosed, the easier it is to treat. People whose cancer is diagnosed at an early stage have a much higher chance of successful treatment than those whose cancer has become more widespread.

Patients can be assured that GP and hospital services in Herefordshire and Worcestershire have gone to great lengths to put infection prevention measures in place to ensure patients can safely access these services. Patients are reminded that the NHS is still here for them when they need it and to telephone their GP if they have signs and symptoms of bowel cancer.

The early signs of bowel cancer can vary and are not very clear. However, they can include:

  • A change in bowel habit (diarrhoea or constipation) for more than two weeks
  • Bleeding from the back passage
  • Loss of weight or appetite
  • Lasting abdominal pain/unusual lump
  • A feeling of not having emptied your bowel properly after a bowel motion

Dr Alison Riley, Macmillan Cancer GP Facilitator for Worcestershire, said: “If you have any signs and symptoms, don’t be embarrassed and don’t ignore them. Doctors are used to seeing lots of people with bowel problems.

“If you notice a change in your bowel movement which isn’t normal for you or have a symptom that doesn’t settle it may be important to arrange further investigations to exclude serious problems such as cancer.

“The symptom might not be due to serious illness and your GP may be able to easily reassure you. If it is cancer or another serious problem, the earlier it’s picked up the higher the chance of successful treatment. 

“When you arrange an appointment with your GP they will initially telephone you to discuss the problem, and then bring you in to be examined or have blood tests if needed. If necessary they will refer you to the hospital.”

Patients are reminded that, while practices remain open, first contact should always be made by telephone or online, at which point the most appropriate appointment will be offered.

Wye Valley NHS Trust in Herefordshire and Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust continue to investigate and treat patients referred by a GP with symptoms, such as those that may indicate a potential cancer.

More information on cancer signs and symptoms can be found here:
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cancer/symptoms/