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New bowel cancer campaign targets early signs

LogoThe government has launched its first ever bowel cancer awareness campaign.

The ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign to highlight the early signs and symptoms of bowel cancer is being piloted initially in two regions and if successful will be rolled out across the country. Adverts will appear on TV, radio and in newspapers in the East of England and South West for seven weeks from Monday 31 January.

Improving cancer outcomes is a government priority and the earlier cancer is diagnosed, the better the outlook. More than 90% of people diagnosed with bowel cancer at the early stage survive for at least five years compared with only 6.6% of those diagnosed at the late stage. It is estimated that ten thousand lives, across all cancers, could be saved each year if England matched the best cancer survival rates in Europe.

Featuring real GPs encouraging patients to talk to them about changes in their poo, the new adverts aim to make people aware of the early signs of bowel cancer and make it easier for them to discuss this with their GP.

doctor The message is: if you’ve had blood in your poo or looser poo for 3 weeks, your doctor wants to know.

MHF's policy officer David Wilkins, who has been leading the MHF's own bowel cancer project, says: 'This new campaign is great news. Bowel cancer kills half as many men again as it does women, so it is crucial that we get this message out to both sexes. Early diagnosis makes a very great difference to the likely outcome. In a couple of months time we will be making recommendations of our own about how men can be encouraged to make best use of the NHS National Bowel Cancer Screening Programme.'

Health Minister Paul Burstow said: 'No one likes talking about their poo – it’s embarrassing. But if we see something different and tell our GP it could save our life.

Early diagnosis makes a huge difference to cancer survival rates and bowel cancer is one of the biggest killers. That’s why the ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign uses simple messages to make people aware of the early signs of bowel cancer and to give them the confidence to talk to their GP about them.

'We want to concentrate on what is most important to patients and their families — cancer outcomes. Alongside the Cancer Drugs Fund and the actions outlined in Improving Outcomes - A Strategy for Cancer which is backed by £750 million over four years, this will help achieve that.'

Backed by leading NGOs

The campaign is backed by leading health charities as well as the MHF.

Sarah Lyness, Cancer Research UK’s executive director of communications and information, said: 'We welcome this campaign because spotting cancer early saves lives. Most changes in bowel habits probably won’t be cancer but if they are it is much better to be diagnosed and treated as quickly as possible.

'So if people notice a change that lasts three weeks or more – whether it’s looser poo, bleeding or anything else that is unusual for them – they should report the symptoms to their doctor without further delay.'

Mark Flannagan, CEO of Beating Bowel Cancer, said: 'The launch of this bowel cancer symptoms awareness campaign is a major step forward in tackling the issue of late diagnosis. By increasing awareness of the disease and encouraging people to act on their symptoms, this campaign has the potential to save thousands of lives.'

Deborah Alsina, CEO of Bowel Cancer UK, said: 'We are delighted to support the launch of the Signs and Symptoms campaign which will feature bowel cancer. Early diagnosis is critical in order to save lives from the disease. It is the second biggest cancer killer in the UK, but it shouldn’t be as it is highly treatable if caught early.

'We hope that the campaign will encourage members of the public to recognise the symptoms of bowel cancer and act on them right away by making an appointment to see their GP so that the disease can either be ruled out or treated quickly.'

Page created on February 1st, 2011

Page updated on February 1st, 2011