People are being encouraged to know the symptoms of the UK's second biggest cancer killer as Bowel Cancer Awareness Month gets underway.

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More than 40,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year - the equivalent of one every 15 minutes - and while sadly some 16,000 people die from the disease every year, the good news is that 9 out of 10 people survive if it is diagnosed early enough.

Ros Jervis, Wolverhampton's Director of Public Health, said: "Bowel cancer is a terrible disease and sadly claims the lives of thousands of people every year.

"Early diagnosis is crucial for increasing the survival rate - and thankfully the vast majority of people diagnosed with bowel cancer survive if it is caught soon enough.

"Unfortunately too many people are still not being diagnosed early enough, often because they are either not aware of the symptoms they need to be looking out for, or because they are too scared to go to the doctors to talk about the problem.

"We are supporting Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, organised by Bowel Cancer UK, and encouraging people in Wolverhampton to find out about the symptoms of bowel cancer and what they should do if they think something is not quite right."

Symptoms of bowel cancer can include bleeding from the bottom, blood in poo, unexplained weight loss, a pain or lump in the stomach or extreme tiredness for no obvious reason.

People may experience one or more - or none - of these symptoms, and if they have any concerns they should speak to their GP as soon as possible.

People may be more at risk of developing bowel cancer if they are over 50, have a family history of the disease or have longstanding inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn's or colitis, have Type 2 diabetes or have polyps in their bowels.

They can reduce their risk of contracting bowel cancer by cutting down on red and processed meats, eating 5 or more portions of fruit and vegetables every day, keeping to a healthy weight and exercising regularly, stopping smoking and reducing alcohol intake.

For more information on bowel cancer, please visit Type=links;Linkid=5988;Title=Bowel Cancer UK;Target=_blank;.

The NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme offers screening every 2 years to all men and women aged 60 to 74 who are registered with a GP. Residents will automatically be sent an invitation, then their screening kit, so they can complete the test in the privacy of their own home, and the results will determine whether further tests are required.

It's important that people aged 60 to 74 ensure they are registered with their GP - and have provided up to date contact details - to ensure they receive the invitation.

  • released: Thursday 9 April, 2015