Radio 1 DJ and I’m A Celebrity star Adele Roberts revealed last night she’d been diagnosed with bowel cancer, aged just 42.
Adele is due to undergo surgery today to remove a tumour and will later find out whether further treatment is needed.
Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK with more than 42,000 new cases diagnosed each year.
Most occur in older age groups: 94% of people diagnosed are aged 50-plus and 59% are over 70. But it’s important to remember bowel cancer can still happen at any age.
It is treatable though, and as LGBTQ+ ambassador Adele says in her post: “Early detection can save your life”.
So what are possible bowel cancer symptoms?
We asked Elizabeth Rogers, associate clinical director and GP at Bupa UK.
- Blood in your poo
“If you notice any blood in your poo, changes to your bowel movement, bloating or abdominal pain after eating, see your GP as soon as possible.
“Don’t put it off, early diagnosis really does save lives.”
- Even if there isn’t blood, get any changes checked
When it comes to our toilet habits, what’s normal for one person, frequency of going to the toilet for example, may be different for another.
A helpful rule of thumb is to always get things checked if you notice changes that are unusual for you.
- Bloating, unexpected weightloss
- Extreme tiredness
- Abdominal pain after eating
What if you already have a history of dodgy digestive symptoms?
Digestive issues are extremely common and these symptoms don’t always mean bowel cancer.
They can also occur due to conditions like IBS, food intolerances and inflammatory bowel disorders, for example.
This can make it tricky to know when to go back to your doctor, especially if you’ve been living with gut issues for a long time.
However, it’s still important to see your GP if you notice any of the changes above.
Are some people at higher risk of bowel cancer?
Bowel cancer is rare before age 40 but it is possible at any age.
Some people may be at higher risk, including if you have a family history of bowel cancer or an inherited bowel condition.
People with long-term inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis may also be more at risk.
Obesity, smoking, a diet lacking in fibre and/or high in processed and red meats, and drinking too much alcohol can also be associated with higher rates of bowel cancer.
That said, the disease can impact people who are fit and healthy too – Adele Roberts is known for her love of fitness and being a keen runner.