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Health Column - Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

Health Column by Bernice Kent, Colorectal Clinical Nurse Specialist

Bernice Kent

April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

Every 15 minutes someone is diagnosed with bowel cancer. Did you know that bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer and the fourth most common cancer in the UK.

At Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, we are the fourth biggest centre for treating bowel cancer in the UK.

Last year 440 people were diagnosed with a bowel cancer within our hospitals in Worcestershire.

The Colorectal Clinical Nurse team are registered nurses who have specialist knowledge and experience of caring for patients with colon or rectal cancer. We act as the patient’s advocate, coordinate their pathways to diagnosis ensuring scans and investigations are done in a timely manner, and ensure the process is communicated to the patient providing information for them at this difficult time.

Someone with a bowel cancer diagnosis can have many physical and psychological needs during their treatment and afterwards. Our role is to ensure they are equipped with the support and information they need to make the process easier for them. This can include referral for financial support, use of holistic health assessment, referral to community care teams or something as simple as just being at the end of the phone to talk things through and answer questions.

Bowel cancer is very treatable and curable if diagnosed early, nearly everyone who is diagnosed in the early stages survives, however this drops significantly as the disease develops.

Being aware of the symptoms and visiting your GP if things don't feel right can mean early diagnosis and cure.

The symptoms of bowel cancer can include

  • 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 reasons.
  • A pain or lump in your tummy.

But bowel cancer doesn’t just impact the person diagnosed. It affects families, friends and colleagues, doctors and nurses, scientists and researchers.

Awareness month is not only about raising awareness it is about coming together and shine a light on the people affected by bowel cancer and the people within our colorectal cancer service.

So some of our team and patients have taken part in the Bowel Cancer UK's #thisisbowelcancer campaign to share the first word that comes to mind about their bowel cancer experience

Bowel Cancer web

One of our team is also running London Marathon to raise money for the Worcestershire Bowel Cancer Support Group, which helps provide extra advice, information and support for anyone affected by Bowel Cancer in Worcestershire.

If you’d like to support her you can at: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/louise-gilbert4

4ward is our Trustwide culture change programme which is helping us build a more positive, supportive workplace for the benefit of our patients and colleagues. At its heart are our four 4ward Behaviours.