MOST people are uncomfortable about talking about their bowel movements – but a new public awareness campaign is trying to get South Yorkshire residents to do just that, and help save lives.
Bowel cancer kills 350 people in South Yorkshire every year and affects nearly another 1,000.
The Government says the death rates are too high and could be brought down if more people are aware of the symptoms of the disease, the country’s second-biggest cancer killer.
Health Minister Paul Burstow, launching the ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign, said: “No one likes talking about their poo – it’s embarrassing.
“But no matter how embarrassing it is, talking to your GP can help save your life.”
Fiona Lemmon, aged 62, from Clifton, near Maltby, has been on a mission to talk about bowel cancer since she was diagnosed with the disease three years ago.
At first she thought the her loose bowel movements and signs of bleeding were to do with an upset stomach.
But, luckily, she decided to talk to her GP. A few weeks later, she watched a screen as a colonoscopy camera spotted a cancerous tumour on her lower bowel.
“I just thought, oh, that’s bad luck, what a nuisance,” she said. “Within two months I was in theatre having keyhole surgery and four days later I was back home.”
Now, clear of cancer, Fiona is fully behind the government campaign.
“I don’t embarrass easily so talking about the symptoms, like blood in poo or loose bowel movements, didn’t bother me a jot,” she said.
“But men, in particular, can have a problem going to a doctor, so they may be doubly reluctant to have their symptoms checked out.
“It’s really important to get symptoms checked out as soon as possible. It may be nothing to do with cancer but an early diagnosis will make it easier to treat.”
■ For more information about the warning signs of bowel cancer log-on to www.beatingbowelcancer.org.