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Understand Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer

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Colorectal cancer (also known as colon cancer, rectal cancer or bowel cancer) is the second most common cause of cancer death in Ireland with almost 2,500 people diagnosed each year.

Dr. Wojciech Sasiadek, Consultant Radiation Oncologist at UPMC Hillman Cancer Centre explains, “With all forms of cancer, 50% are preventable and 30% are preventable through lifestyle changes. The key to bowel cancer is adopting a lifestyle that will reduce the risk of bowel cancer.”

“Day to day changes go a long way in preventing this cancer. For example, a healthy diet is important, with a limited amount of red and processed meat, increase your fibre intake, get your 5-a-day, cut down on alcohol, exercise more, don’t smoke and embrace an active lifestyle with a least thirty minutes of physical activity every day.”

“While there is no fail safe solution to getting bowel cancer, these are the changes we can all make to ensure we lower the chances of getting this preventable disease. Along with a systematic approach to research, which provides an evidence base for best practice in the screening, diagnosis and treatment of cancer, improvements are being made.”

Dr. Sasiadek also stressed the importance of being aware of changes in one’s body that may be symptomatic of colorectal cancer. “Any deviations from the norm merit further investigation from a G.P. Warning signs include blood in the bowel motion or bleeding from the back passage, unexplained weight loss, diarrhoea or constipation which lasts for a few weeks.”

Colorectal cancer usually affects the large bowel, which is made up of the colon and the rectum and while it can affect anyone, those over 60 years of age are more at risk. Early detection is key to successful treatment.