April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and the charity Bowel Cancer UK is using the month to urge people across the UK to encourage participation in the NHS’ screening programme.
Bowel cancer is the UK’s second biggest cancer killer, every year over 41,500 people are diagnosed with the disease and around 16,000 die from it.
The NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme, now in its tenth year, is designed to identify the disease in people who have no symptoms.
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland screening is available every two years to people aged 60-74 and in Scotland it is available for those aged 50-74.
Since its launch, 97% of people diagnosed with the disease through the screening process have survived for at least a year, compared to 74% who were diagnosed by other means.
Bowel Cancer UK is hoping to continue this success by raising money and awareness. For Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, the charity is helping people coordinate ‘Be a Star, Bake a Cake’ fundraising and awareness events. Supporters are also being to share photos of their cakes on Twitter and Facebook using #STOPbowelcancer.
Bowel Cancer Awareness Month information packs can be ordered or downloaded and printed from the Bowel Cancer UK website.
Travelling with cancer
Having cancer should not stop you enjoying your holidays and we’ve spoken to healthcare specialists to put together a few tips for travelling with bowel cancer.
- First, speak to your doctor to make sure you are fit enough to travel.
- Check the level of medical care available in the country you plan to visit.
- Bowel cancer can increase your chance of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). For tips on how to prevent DVT, visit the NHS website.
- Check with your doctor if your destination requires vaccinations. Some can’t be taken if you have had chemotherapy, for example. Alternatively, you may have lost your immunity to certain diseases if you’ve had chemotherapy or stem cell transplants.
- Take enough medicine to last your holiday and a little extra just in case you are delayed.
- Keep a list of your medicines and their names in your wallet or purse as this will help you replace them quicker if you lose them.
- To avoid diarrhoea and vomiting, stay away from water or ice cubes if you doubt their cleanliness.
- If you are jetting off to soak up the sun, don’t forget that chemotherapy and radiotherapy can make some patients more sensitive to sunlight.
- If you are travelling to Europe, it’s a requirement with Staysure that you get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This gives you free or reduced cost medical treatment – but it doesn’t cover the cost of being flown back to the UK. Apply online here or call 0300 330 1350.
- For more information on bowel cancer visit Bowel Cancer UK.