The campaign has been organised by Bowel Cancer UK, a leading charity who provide expert information, support and funding into ground breaking treatments and research.
Why should I fundraise for Bowel Cancer UK?
Bowel cancer is a term for cancer that originates in the large bowel. Depending on where it starts, bowel cancer can sometimes be referred to as colon or rectal cancer. Bowel cancer is one of the most third most common cancer diagnosed in men and affects approximately 40,000 people a year in the United Kingdom. Most people diagnosed with bowel cancer are over the age of 60. However, this also affects people who are younger.
Because bowel cancer symptoms are centred around the back passage, or your bottom, this can prevent people from seeking treatment. However, the earlier you seek treatment, the greater your chances of survival. By taking part in Decembeard and fundraising for charities like Bowel Cancer UK, the money goes to helping educate people about the symptoms of bowel cancer, funding research into better treatments and saving lives.
What are the causes of bowel cancer?
The causes of bowel cancer aren’t exactly known. However, there are some factors that may increase your risk of getting the disease. There are:
• Age – Most bowels cancers occur in people over the age of 60.
• Diet – A low fibre diet which is high in red or processed meat can increase your risk of developing bowel cancer.
• Weight – People who are overweight have a higher risk of developing bowel cancer.
• Inactivity – Lack of exercise increases your risk of developing bowel cancer.
• Drinking and smoking can increase your risk of developing bowel cancer.
• Family history – Having an immediate relative such as a mother, father, brother or sister who developed bowel cancer under the age of 50 may mean that you have a higher chance of developing the cancer. However, genetic screening may be offered to you to help manage this risk, so please speak to your GP.
What are the symptoms of bowel cancer?
The symptoms of bowel cancer can be embarrassing and this may stop people for seeking help sooner. Similarly, not all rectal cancer symptoms actually mean cancer and may be a symptom of something a little less sinister. For ease of reference, the symptoms may include:
• Blood in your poo
• Narrow stools
• Going for a poo more often
• Looser or harder poos
• Straining or feeling like you still need to ‘go’ after having a poo
• Stomach pain or bloating
• Unexplained weight loss or nausea
• Unexplained fatigue
If the symptoms persist over three weeks, you should contact your doctor. If you see blood in your poo, you should always contact your doctor and make an appointment to see him.
Diagnosing Bowel cancer
It is important to seek help with rectal cancer symptoms as quickly as possible to ensure that you have the best chances of survival. Furthermore, please bear in mind that having symptoms doesn’t always mean that you do have cancer, but this will need to be ruled out. You GP will conduct further investigations to establish the cause of your symptoms and ensure that you receive the best treatment.
Firstly, your GP will ask about the symptoms that you are experiencing, your medical history and may need to conduct an examination. A rectal examination involves your GP gently inserting a gloved finger into your rectum to feel or any swellings or lumps.
You may be asked to have a blood test to check your general health and provide a sample of your poo. The sample will be sent off to a laboratory and tested for any ‘hidden’ blood that you may have missed. If your GP shares your concerns about bowel cancer, they will refer to a consultant who specialises in diseases of the large bowel for further tests, and if required, treatment.
Can I prevent bowel cancer?
Some people also have an increased risk of bowel cancer because they have another condition, such as extensive ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. There are other risks that cannot be changed such as a person’s age or family history of bowel cancer. However, research has shown that there are several ways that you can lower your chances of developing the condition. These are:
• Eating a high fibre diet with lots of fruit and vegetables. Experts recommend eating at least two servings of fruit, five servings of
vegetables and lots of wholegrain foods every day.
• Reduce saturated fats and eat less red meat. Charred food can also increase the risk of developing bowel cancer so enjoy barbecues in
• Regular exercise has been shown to lower the risk of developing bowel cancer. Experts recommend at least thirty minutes’ exercise for
at least five days a week.
• Giving up smoking can also help to reduce your chances of developing bowel cancer. Smokers are also more likely to die from bowel
• Reduce your alcohol intake. Experts recommend having two alcohol free days a week and sticking to one drink a day for women and two
drinks a day for men.
Getting involved with Decembeard
For those hoping to get involved with Decembeard and help to raise month for this very worthy cause. Bowel Cancer UK are urging participants to sign up on their website and receive a free fundraising pack. Each pack contains fundraising tips, beard growing styles and posters to help your friends and family to get involved.