BBC Radio 1 DJ Adele Roberts raises awareness of the symptoms of bowel cancer with new findings
Health / Fri 14th Apr 2023 at 09:25am
The YouGov results are published ahead of Bowel Cancer Awareness Month this April, as part of our new campaign helping people to #KnowTheHigh5 symptoms of bowel cancer, with the support of BBC Radio 1 DJ Adele Roberts, who was diagnosed with the disease in October 2021, and her partner Kate Holderness.
One of the key ‘red flag’ bowel cancer symptoms is blood in your poo, but only around half of people (49%) were able to name it. The other four main symptoms, experienced by many who go on to be diagnosed with the disease, have an alarmingly low rate of awareness based on those people could name:
People living in wealthier regions are more likely to be aware of the red flag bowel cancer symptoms compared to people living in more deprived areas. Those living in Birmingham, the English local authority with the highest levels of deprivation, have a lower rate of awareness that blood in poo (36%) is a red flag symptom of bowel cancer compared to people living in more affluent English regions like the South West (56%) and South East (52%).
Even more concerning is that six in ten people (59%) across the UK said if they experienced a change in bowel habit like diarrhoea or constipation that didn’t clear up, or saw bleeding from their bottom, something would stop them from contacting their doctor. Their reasons included difficulties getting an appointment (36%), being too embarrassed (13%) or being too afraid that it could be something serious (13%).
BBC Radio 1 DJ Adele Roberts, who was diagnosed with stage 2 bowel cancer in October 2021, says:“It took me a while to pluck up the courage to call my GP at first. My symptoms seemed like things I could explain away. I didn’t want to be a burden to the NHS and I was embarrassed. I shouldn’t have worried. My GP took my concerns seriously, put me at ease and also offered me a home testing kit. This meant I was able to do the test in the comfort of my own home. Soon after I was diagnosed with stage 2 bowel cancer, which was very nearly developing into stage 3. Getting the help I needed in time helped save my life. If you’re worried please speak to someone, early detection saves lives and it helped save mine.”
National Clinical Director for Cancer, Professor Peter Johnson, said: “As with all cancers, acting at the first sign of symptoms can make a big difference to how bowel cancer can be treated and how successfully. You are much more likely to survive a cancer that is diagnosed early, which is why the NHS and charities like Bowel Cancer UK have run awareness campaigns about the signs to look for.
“Referrals for bowel cancer tests have been at record levels for the last 18 months, and we would encourage people to speak to a GP about any concerning symptoms: knowing what is normal for you and acting when something isn’t right can make all the difference.”
Genevieve Edwards, Chief Executive of Bowel Cancer UK, says: “It’s concerning that people aren’t aware of the symptoms of the UK’s second biggest cancer killer. Someone dies from the disease every 30 minutes in the UK, which means that in the time it takes to watch an episode of your favourite soap, one family will lose a loved one to bowel cancer. But it doesn’t have to be this way as it’s treatable and curable, especially when diagnosed early.
“That’s why this Bowel Cancer Awareness Month we’re launching a new campaign to raise awareness of the five red flag symptoms of the disease and asking people to take our #KnowTheHigh5 quiz.
“By going to straight to your GP if you spot any symptoms, or if something just doesn’t feel right, it’s possible to rule out the disease first and fast. They’ll want to see you and may ask you to do a test at home to help decide whether your symptoms need further investigation. Get to know the symptoms of bowel cancer, tell your friends and family about them – it really could save your life.”
We have lots of ways you can support us this Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, including: