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Women live in ignorance of bowel cancer

31st March 2011

A new survey has revealed that three quarters of women are unaware of the threat posed by bowel cancer.

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While many women have an awareness of cervical cancer or ovarian cancer, they are not aware that bowel cancer is responsible for almost twice as many cases than the other two put together.

Figures show that some 17,900 women are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year, compared to 2,830 cases of cervical cancer and 6,500 cancers of ovarian cancer. There are also 48,000 cases of breast cancer a year.

Bowel cancer kills 16,250 men and women in this country every year and it is the third most common cancer, though early detection cuts the risk of it spreading with 90% of patients surviving at least five years.

Despite these figures, the charity Bowel Cancer UK discovered that two-thirds of men and almost half of women could not name any of the four main symptoms of a change in normal bowel routine; bleeding from the rectum or blood in stools; extreme tiredness and/or weight loss; and a pain or lump in the abdomen.

The charity’s chief executive Deborah Alsina said: “The results of this survey highlight the fact that public awareness of bowel cancer, in terms of its prevalence and its signs and symptoms, is alarmingly low.

“We know that unlike breast, ovarian and cervical cancers, which have received significant public attention, bowel cancer has a very low profile and there continues to be a general reluctance to talk about it openly.”

 

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