2,500 people in Ireland are diagnosed with bowel cancer. 1,000 die from it. We want to stop this.
March 31, 2017

April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

Bowel cancer information and support is consistently the most sought after by the Irish public

As it launches its annual bowel cancer awareness campaign, the Irish Cancer Society has said that information on bowel cancer continues to be the most sought after information by the public on its website.

April is bowel cancer awareness month and the Society said that the symptoms and diagnosis of bowel cancer was one of the top four pages visited on the Irish Cancer Society’s website in 2016, and was looked-for more than any other specific cancer type.

Bowel cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in Ireland with the latest figures saying that over 2,500 people are diagnosed every year.

Around 1,000 people die from the disease annually, making it the second most common cause of cancer death in Ireland.

While the numbers of new cases per year continue to rise, survival rates have increased gradually with 5 in 10 surviving five years post-diagnosis in 1994 compared with 6 in 10 in 2012.

To learn more about bowel cancer, visit our Bowel Cancer Awareness section.

Joan Kelly, Cancer Support Manager with the Irish Cancer Society said “Bowel cancer usually occurs in people over 60 years of age and is often diagnosed in the later stages. However, if bowel cancer is caught early, it is extremely treatable."

During the Month of April the Society will be campaigning to make people aware of the signs and symptoms of bowel cancer.

This year we have also developed an easy to use online Bowel Health Checker which is a short quiz designed to inform people on staying healthy while checking their bowel health as well as informing people about the sign and symptoms of bowel cancer. Once completed, there is a handy printout to take to your doctor should it be needed.

Check your bowel health

Also vital in improving bowel cancer survival rates is informing about the State’s free screening programme – BowelScreen. In its first screening round, from October 2012 to December 2015, BowelScreen had a screening uptake rate of just four in ten people, meaning an average of six in ten people are not taking up the offer of screening. Screening is vital in diagnosing cancers early and we need to see it as a central part of a healthy lifestyle. If we’re eligible for free screening, we should take it up.

Andrew Jones, 38, a bowel cancer survivor from Dublin, said “I was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer in 2013 and I just couldn’t believe it when I got the news. I had been experiencing some abdominal pain but I really thought it was something minor. What followed that diagnosis was a year of treatment and sickness and it was a huge challenge to beat the disease.

“Thankfully I have come out the other side but it is absolutely essential that we do more to raise awareness of this cancer and encourage people to go to their doctor if they are experiencing any of the symptoms. For me, it was abdominal pain that I had put down to too much coffee.

“Bowel cancer is very treatable, I am living proof of that, but the earlier it is caught the better. If you get a letter calling you for your bowel screening – just go. Take it from someone who has actually been through bowel cancer.”

To speak to a cancer nurse on any aspect of bowel cancer contact the Cancer Nurseline on Freephone 1800 200 700, email cancernurseline@irishcancer.ie or drop into one of 13 Daffodil Centres in hospitals nationwide.

Visit www.cancer.ie/bowel for further information on bowel cancer and to take the Online Bowel Health Checker.

The Irish Cancer Society’s bowel cancer awareness campaign is kindly supported by Merck.