At Home Christian Jessen 2014 - 103

A

| BOWEL CANCER|

round 110 people are diagnosed
with bowel cancer each day.
However, research suggests over
93% will survive for more than five
years if diagnosed at the earliest
stage. It can affect any part of the
bowel, but it's most common in the
colon (large intestine) and rectum (end of the colon).

What causes it?

The exact cause of bowel cancer is unknown, but the
risk increases as you age - 75% of people diagnosed
with the condition are over 65. Genetics also play a part.
Some evidence suggests that a diet high in meat and fat,
but low in fibre increases risk due to the irregular bowel
movements produced by such a diet. Lifestyle choices
can also increase the risk, as can being overweight, lack
of exercise, smoking and alcohol. Bowel cancers could
be prevented with changes in diet and lifestyle. In
general, a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables seems
to be associated with a lower risk of bowel cancer. Other
research has found that being overweight or inactive
also increases the risk of bowel cancer.

What are the symptoms?

A change in your bowel habits
Bloody poo or bleeding from your bottom
Unexplained tiredness
Unexplained weight loss
A lump or pain in your abdomen
Feeling like you can't empty your bowels properly
(sometimes, bowel cancer can cause a blockage leading
to pain, a bloated feeling, constipation and being sick)
Make an appointment with your doctor if you have
any of the above symptoms. Bear in mind these signs
can often be caused by other medical conditions, but
they should be checked out by a GP regardless.

How bowel cancer is classified

If you're diagnosed with bowel cancer, your oncologist
will grade your cancer according to it's location, size
and spread. This will give your treatment team an idea
of how best to manage your cancer and the likely
progression of the disease. There are two ways to access
the stage of your illness - the Dukes' method and the
more commonly used tumour, nodes and metastasis
(TNM) and number staging method. TNM staging gives
a very detailed account of your cancer, and is used to
create the following groups:
In Stage 0, cancerous cells are contained within the
lining of the bowel, and there is very little chance they
have spread. Stage 1 bowel cancer means the tumour
has grown into the muscle wall of the bowel and
in stage 2, while the lymph nodes are clear,
the cancer has spread to the outer covering
Survival
of the bowel (Stage 2A) or the surrounding
success
organs and tissues (Stage 2B). About a
quarter of people diagnosed with bowel
PEOPLE WITH BOWEL
cancer will be at Stage 2, and after
CANCER ARE NOW MORE
surgery, around 77% of people will live
more than five years. If the lymph nodes
LIKELY TO SURVIVE THAN
have become cancerous, the cancer is
THOSE DIAGNOSED IN
called Stage 3 bowel cancer, and if it has
THE EARLY 1970S
already spread to other parts of the body
(metastasised), it's known as Stage 4.
www.athomemagazine.co.uk JULY 2014 | 103


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