Bowel Cancer Awareness Month – April 2019

Bowel Cancer Awareness Month – April 2019


Dear Colleagues,

April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM). The CWU Health, Safety & Environment Department continues to support the annual initiative and working with the organisers, Bowel Cancer UK to raise awareness of Bowel Cancer and the Bowel Cancer UK charity organisation.

Young, old, female or male – it affects us all. This April, Bowel Cancer UK will be shining a light on the varied and many people affected by bowel cancer. But it doesn’t just impact the person diagnosed. It affects families, friends and colleagues, doctors and nurses, scientists and researchers.

Bowel Cancer Statistics

42,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with Bowel Cancer each year.

16,000 people die from Bowel Cancer in the UK each year.

57% of adult Bowel Cancer patients diagnosed are predicted to survive ten or more years.

54% of Bowel Cancer cases each year in the UK are linked to major lifestyle and other risk factors.

Early diagnosis is the key to survival!

Bowel Cancer UK

Bowel Cancer UK has, for 29 years, been campaigning to save lives and improve the quality of life for all those affected by Bowel Cancer. Bowel Cancer UK is determined to save lives and improve the quality of life for all those affected by Bowel Cancer. Their headquarters are in London, England. They also currently have offices in Scotland and Northern Ireland. They are a charity with a registered charity number in England & Wales (1071038) and Scotland

(SC040914). As a charitable organisation, Bowel Cancer UK is almost completely dependent on voluntary donations. The Charity does a number of things:-

Early diagnosis of Bowel Cancer and UK Survival Rates

Early diagnosis of Bowel Cancer in the UK is a problem because people either find it uncomfortable to discuss the symptoms of the disease or simply do not know what they are.

Survival rates in the UK are amongst the lowest in Europe, with 15% more patients being diagnosed at a later stage of the disease compared with most other European countries. This is why Bowel Cancer UK’s work – to encourage people to recognise the symptoms of the disease and to act on their concerns so that they have the best chance of survival – is so important.

Bowel Cancer survival rates in the UK lag behind the rest of Europe, mainly because people are unaware of the symptoms of Bowel Cancer or are uncomfortable talking about them, so are diagnosed late. Each year, thousands die unnecessarily.

Bowel Cancer UK saves lives by raising awareness, campaigning for best treatment and care and providing practical support and advice.

What is Bowel Cancer?

Bowel Cancer is also referred to as colorectal, colon or rectal cancer. Nearly all Bowel Cancers develop in the large bowel – two-thirds of these are in the colon and one-third in the rectum. Most Bowel Cancers develop from polyps which are usually non-cancerous and, once detected, can be removed easily if caught early enough. The bowel is divided into the small bowel (small intestine) and the large bowel (colon and rectum). Cancer of the small bowel is rare with only just over 700 people diagnosed in the UK each year. On the Bowel Cancer UK website, “Bowel Cancer” refers to cancer of the large bowel and not small Bowel Cancer.

The bowel is divided into four sections:

  • ascending
  • transverse
  • descending
  • sigmoid

The bowel is part of our digestive system. Food passes from the stomach to the small bowel. After the small bowel takes nutrients into the body, any undigested food passes through the large bowel, where water is removed from the waste matter. This waste matter is held in the rectum (back passage) until it leaves the body as bowel motions (also known as poo, stools or faeces). Cancer occurs when cells in your bowel multiply out of control. These cells can invade surrounding tissue and spread to other parts of the body.

Bowel Cancer Screening

Regular Bowel Cancer screening has been shown to reduce deaths from Bowel Cancer. Some people with Bowel Cancer have the disease, or are at risk of it developing before any symptoms appear. The screening programme is designed to find those people and treat them more effectively.

All men and women aged 60-74 are invited to carry out an FOB (faecal occult blood) test at home. They’re sent the home test kit every two years through the post, until they reach the age of 74.

The test is not compulsory but Bowel Cancer UK does strongly advise that everyone who is invited takes part. The earlier Bowel Cancer is detected, the easier it is to treat.

Who is eligible for screening?

People aged:

  • 60-74 in England
  • 60-74 in Wales
  • 60-74 in Northern Ireland
  • 50-74 in Scotland

If you are registered with a GP and eligible for Bowel Cancer screening, you will receive a letter and a leaflet explaining the home testing kit prior to receiving the kit itself. These will be sent to where you live.

If you are over the screening age you may be able to opt-in and request a kit, depending on where you live in the UK. More information can be found from your relevant national Bowel Screening Programme by calling one of the freephone numbers listed below.

What does the Bowel Cancer screening test do?
The home testing kit tests for faecal occult blood (hidden blood in poo). It does not diagnose Bowel Cancer. If the home testing kit detects blood, you will be invited for a consultation with a specialist screening practitioner in your area. During this meeting, your test results and what happens next will be discussed.

Find out more:
How to take the Bowel Cancer Screening Test  – See Attached Fact Sheet.

Screening in the Nations

If you receive the screening kit, use it and return it.

The NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme in England began in July 2006 and is currently screening everyone between the ages of 60 and 74, every two years. For further information, please contact the England Bowel Cancer screening on freephone helpline on 0800 707 6060, Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm. In some areas of England, screening has also rolled out to people up to 75 years old. To find out which areas, call the freephone helpline. Find out more about the NHS Cancer Screening Programme at:-

Scottish Bowel Screening began in June 2007 and includes everyone between the ages of 50-74, every two years. For further information, please contact the Scottish bowel screening freephone helpline on 0800 0121 833, Monday-Friday 8am -5pm. To find out more about the Scottish Bowel Screening Programme, go to:-

Bowel Screening Wales began in October 2008 and has rolled out nationally to 60-74 year olds every two years. For further information call the Welsh bowel screening freephone helpline on 0800 294 3370, Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm. You can also find out more about the Welsh Bowel Screening Programme at:-

Northern Ireland
The Northern Ireland Bowel Cancer Screening Programme offers screening to everyone between the ages of 60-74, every two years. For further information call the Northern Ireland freephone helpline on 0800 015 2514, Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm. Find out more about the Northern Ireland Bowel Screening Programme at:


  • Anyone concerned about symptoms of Bowel Cancer should visit their GP without delay.
  • Anyone over the screening age can find out about requesting a test kit by calling the relevant helpline number above.

Risk factors

Although the exact cause of Bowel Cancer is unknown, there are certain factors that may increase your risk.

Gender and age

Bowel Cancer affects both men and women. In the UK, around 95% of cases occur in people over the age of 50.

Family history

People with a first degree relative (such as mother, father, brother, sister, child) under 45 or with two or more first degree relatives with Bowel Cancer may be considered for further testing.

Diet and lifestyle

An inactive lifestyle and a poor diet that is low in fresh fruit and vegetables may increase the risk of Bowel Cancer. A high intake of red and processed meat, smoking and excess alcohol may increase the risk.

Other conditions

People with diabetes, a history of Crohn’s disease in the large bowel, or ulcerative colitis, or who have had previous polyps removed, may also be at an increased risk.

Minimising The Risk – Diet & Exercise

Taking some simple steps to improve your diet and taking regular exercise can help reduce your risk of Bowel Cancer. So it is important to:

See attached CWU/Bowel Cancer UK ‘Diet & Exercise ‘Fact Sheet’.

Further Information and Contact Details:

Bowel Cancer UK Head Office
Willcox House,
140-148 Borough High Street
London SE1 1LB
Tel: 020 7940 1760
Fax: 020 7940 1761

Bowel Cancer UK in Scotland
20 Queen Street
Edinburgh EH2 1JX
Tel: 0131 225 5333
Fax: 0131 225 2206

Bowel Cancer UK in Northern Ireland
Contact Bernadette McGarry
Tel: 07798 523668

Individual support

If you know someone requiring individual support and wishing to speak to a nurse, they can contact the Macmillan Cancer Support on 0808 808 00 00 between 9am – 8pm Monday – Friday, or Cancer Research UK on 0808 800 4040 between 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday.


  • Bowel Cancer – Understanding Bowel Cancer Factsheet
  • Bowel Cancer – Spotlight on Men
  • Bowel Cancer – Symptoms & Risk Factors Factsheet
  • Bowel Cancer – Screening Factsheet.
  • Bowel Cancer – Diagnosing, Factsheet
  • Bowel Cancer – Genetic Conditions & Risk Factors Factsheet
  • Bowel Cancer – Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Bowel Cancer Risks Factsheet
  • Bowel Cancer – Keeping a Bowel Cancer symptoms diary
  • Bowel Cancer – Talking to your doctor about symptoms Factsheet.

                                        Let’s beat cancer sooner

The CWU Thanks Bowel Cancer UK, Cancer Research UK and Macmillan Cancer Support for working with us in producing this LTB, Advice and Information.

Yours sincerely


Dave Joyce
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer

19LTB263 Bowel Cancer Awareness Month – April 2019

Bowel Cancer – diagnosing_bowel_cancer_factsheet

Bowel Cancer – genetic_conditions_and_bowel_cancer_risk factsheet

Bowel Cancer – Inflammatory Bowel Disease Bowel Cancer Risk Factsheet

Bowel Cancer – keeping_a_bowel_symptom_diary

Bowel Cancer – Spotlight On Men – Bowel Cancer UK

Bowel Cancer – Symptoms_and_risk_factors_factsheet

Bowel Cancer – talking_to_your_doctor_about_bowel_symptoms_factsheet

Bowel Cancer – understanding_bowel_cancer_factsheet



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