Bowel Cancer – When should you start getting screened?

You’re probably not aware that more than 2, 500 people under age 50 are diagnosed with bowel cancer in the UK every year. This means that, 1 in 15 men and 1 in 18 women will be diagnosed with bowel cancer during their lifetime. If diagnosed early, bowel cancer is treatable and curable. However, it’s one of the leading causes of death, so something to be taken really seriously.

Notably, since the numbers of people with bowel cancer are on the rise, so are the numbers of people getting regularly screened for bowel cancer which is one positive we can take.

The NHS provides bowel cancer screening checks for those everyone aged 60 or over. In 2021, based on the number of individuals younger than 60 living with the disease, this has expanded to include individuals from age 51. The screening provided by the NHS is through a home test kit, which collects a stool samples and is analysed for tiny amounts of blood. Blood in the stool can be a sign of polyps or bowel cancer. A polyp is a growth in the bowel that can turn into cancer over time.

At The Whitehall Clinic, we believe that your age shouldn’t be a determining factor for when you can have a bowel cancer screen and since the age at which you can get bowel cancer is lowering, our specialist team recommend its worth getting tested around age 45 to ensure that we’re ruling things out from the very beginning.

Our team of Private GP’s and Screening specialists recommend that screening does not only detect cancer, but can also prevent cancer by allowing us to find polyps and remove them before giving them a chance of turning into cancer.

Some risk factors you can control:

  • Being overweight
  • Not exercising regularly
  • Too much red / processed meats in your diet
  • Not enough vitamin D in your diet
  • Smoking
  • Heavy alcohol use

Risk factors beyond your control:

  • Being older
  • History of colorectal polyps, bowel cancer or inflammatory bowel disease
  • Family history of bowel cancer or polyps
  • Having a hereditary cancer syndrome (lynch syndrome or familial adenomatous polyposis)
  • Race / ethnic background
  • Being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes

Some symptoms to look out for:

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Changes in bowel movements (going from frequent movements to being constipated or having diarrhoea)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weight loss

Our team recommend if you’re experiencing any of the above, it’s always worth speaking to a specialist rather than letting the symptoms continue and potentially put you at more risk and get worse! We can also arrange a CT Scan – Colonoscopy with our partner Clinic for £895 to manage any of your concerns.