Stay at home, check for the 5 red flag signs of bowel cancer and save lives – The Sun

IT'S drilled into us – stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.

Life is on hold, we're on lockdown trying to stop coronavirus's deadly spread.

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Coronavirus is the new 'big C' in our lives. It's terrifying, every day we find out how many lives have been lost, how many families left devastated by this invisible killer.

It's heartbreaking, but to be blunt, it doesn't stop cancer killing people too.

The original 'big C' is still here, it's still a threat and not just for those of us already diagnosed.

Yesterday, one of the leading oncologists in the UK, Prof Karol Sikora, warned that if this goes on for six months, 50,000 cancer patients could die.

It comes as Cancer Research UK warned 2,700 cancers are missed every week, as people avoid seeing their GP or going to hospital.

Bowel Cancer UK have noticed a sharp drop in urgent referrals.

And another team of experts said we face a cancer epidemic affecting millions when we come out the other side of this crisis.

It's terrifying, but what can we do about it when the world needs to focus on coronavirus – and rightly so?

Stay at home, check yourself and save lives

Right now, we have to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives from coronavirus.

But, to save lives from cancer, we need to do one more thing – check yourself.

Every April, I bang on about the same thing to mark Bowel Cancer Awareness Month – check your poo.

I'm a prime example of how early diagnosis really is the difference between life and death.

Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in the UK – it claims 16,000 lives every year.

But it can be stopped, it can be cured – if you catch it early enough.

Catch it at stage 1 and your chance of surviving five years or longer is about 97 per cent.

Catch it at stage 4 like mine was and that chance falls off a cliff to just 8 per cent.

I'm three-and-a-half years into my five years, and every single day I wish my tumour had been found earlier.

The key to early diagnosis is knowing our bodies, knowing the signs of the disease – and getting checked when things change, or don't seem right.

Signs you should never ignore

When it comes to bowel cancer, there are five red-flag signs, that should never be ignored. They are:

  • Bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo
  • A persistent and unexplained change in bowel habit
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
  • A pain or lump in your tummy

The message is simple, if you spot any of these – your GP is still open, the NHS is still there for you too.

No one wants to put any extra pressure on the NHS right now, but the reality is that by putting off seeing a doctor at the earliest sign, the problem spirals.

The longer you wait, the more the NHS will have to do to try and fix you.

See your GP early and get it sorted and you might just spare yourself and the NHS, chemo, countless operations, rounds and rounds of radiotherapy, and experimental drug treatments.

Collateral damage

The sad reality is that with every day that coronavirus continues it's reign of terror, cancer patients new and old will feel it's effects even more acutely.

Many patients face the reality of not living to see the end of lockdown.

Operations have been cancelled, treatment is being delayed and diagnosis is taking longer.

Each case is a person and a family affected forever.

Yes, coronavirus is terrifying, but it does feel like we've forgotten anything else exists.

It's unprecedented, it's something we've never faced before and it's right that drastic action had to be take to stop it.

But, it's important other diseases like cancer are not forgotten – we're facing a bigger crisis when all this is over, a cancer epidemic that might even dwarf Covid-19 in the long run.

Don't let Covid take more from us

Coronavirus isn't going anywhere, and we still have months of some sort of social distancing ahead of us, but please do what you can now.

Get outside to exercise, keep healthy and homeschool yourself to learn the warning signs of bowel cancer right now.


If you notice anything just call your GP – doctors understand the importance of not letting a medical problem brew.

Don't let Covid-19 come back to bite a giant cancer-shaped lump out your arse at a later date.

So, while we are all staying at home to protect the NHS and save lives from Covid-19, let's try and save some lives from cancer too.

Stay at home, check for the signs of cancer, protect the NHS – and save even more lives.

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