‘Early diagnosis makes a huge difference’: man diagnosed after bowel cancer test urges others to get screening

According to the NHS, there are three main symptoms of bowel cancer, including persistent lower abdominal pain

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK, with more than 16,000 lives lost in the UK due to the condition every year.

But new research has found that over half (54 per cent) of those surveyed couldn’t recognise the signs and symptoms of bowel cancer.

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Research carried out by The Leadership Factor on behalf of ScS found that when asked to select from a list of symptoms, a third (33 per cent) didn't recognise having blood in their stool as a warning sign and almost half (48 per cent) didn’t realise abdominal pain was an indicator of the disease.

John Marno was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2020 after being sent a home screening test (Photo: John Marno)

Over half of those asked (55 per cent) didn’t flag changes in bowel habits as a possible symptom.

This comes as the month of April marks Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, with people urged to see their GP if they think they may have any of the symptoms of bowel cancer.

According to the NHS, the three main symptoms of bowel cancer are:

- persistent blood in your poo – that happens for no obvious reason or is associated with a change in bowel habit

One of the main symptoms of bowel cancer is persistent lower abdominal pain (Photo: Shutterstock)

- a persistent change in your bowel habit – which is usually having to poo more and your poo may also become more runny

- persistent lower abdominal (tummy) pain, bloating or discomfort – that's always caused by eating and may be associated with loss of appetite or significant unintentional weight loss

As a way of raising awareness of the condition, ScS has been working with ITV's Lorraine on its 'No Butts' campaign, which urges people to pay attention to their bodies and watch out for any unusual symptoms.

ScS recently placed twenty-two empty two-seater sofas in Sunderland’s Stadium of Light to represent the 44 people who lose their lives every day due to bowel cancer.

The Stadium of Light was chosen as it holds 49,000 seats, which is a number close to the 42,000 people diagnosed with bowel cancer each year in the UK.

‘If they had caught it a year later, they wouldn't have been able to do anything about it’

John Marno, 57, lives in Scotland and is currently the branch manager of the ScS Glasgow Fort store.

Mr Marno was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2020 after being sent a home screening test, with tests sent to men and women from the ages of 50 to 74 in Scotland.

However, he had visited his GP in 2019 after he spotted some blood coming from his bottom, which was initially thought to be internal piles.

After taking the screening test, Mr Marno received a letter two day after to say that further tests were required, and was then diagnosed with bowel cancer on 27 November 2020.

Mr Marno received a positive diagnosis of bowel cancer on 27 November 2020.

Since then, he has now had both chemotherapy and radiotherapy, with side effects of the treatments making him feel tired, sick and “at times depression does set in.”

However, as a result of taking the test and initial treatment, Mr Marno should shortly be in a position to have an operation that will remove what is left of the lesion, as he says doctors told him that “if they had caught it a year later, they wouldn't have been able to do anything about it, which is scary.”

The branch manager adds: “What I would say is if you are offered screening, do it! Take up is generally very low but early diagnosis is proven to make a huge difference.”

‘Knowing the symptoms is really important’

​Mr Marno says that as testing isn’t available for everyone, “knowing the symptoms is also really important.”

“Look out for blood from your bottom, an unexplained change in bowel habit, unexplained weight loss, extreme tiredness and a pain or lump in your tummy,” he adds.

When it comes to doing the home tests, Mr Marno says: “People need to do the tests, they might think it's not worth it but it really is, it only takes two minutes and it's done.

“In Scotland, the doctor told me that the uptake on the test of over 50s is less than 50 per cent.

“People just aren't doing it, maybe because they are embarrassed about it. I want to raise as much awareness as possible and keep telling friends and family to just do it, don't be afraid.”