A third of patients are “too embarrassed” to talk to their GP about changes to their poo despite it being a key indicator of bowel cancer, it is claimed.
The DH’s ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ bowel cancer campaign encourages people who have had blood in their poo or looser poo for three weeks or more to see their doctor.
Advertisements linked with the campaign aim to ensure more people are aware of the symptoms of bowel cancer and hopes it will lead them to feel easier about discussing possible symptoms with their GP.
TV personality Sharon Osbourne is urging people to “get over” their embarrassment to ensure early detection of the disease.
“For goodness' sake...we've all got a bum and we all poo, so get over it,” she said.
“The sooner bowel cancer is caught, the more likely the chance of survival.
“That is why everyone needs to just look out for the symptoms and head straight to the doctor if you are worried about anything. Early detection could save your life.”
The DH survey found almost three-quarters of people (74%) are unaware that as much as one third of the population in England will get cancer in a lifetime and only 15% of people are aware that 34,000 people get bowel cancer each year in England.
“No one likes thinking about cancer, or talking about their poo,” said Care Services Minister Paul Burstow.
“But the plain fact is no one dies of embarrassment, they can die of cancer if they don’t get an early diagnosis.
“Early diagnosis makes a huge difference to [a patient’s] chance of survival. That’s why we are building on the success of our recent national campaign which led to more people getting checked out by their GP."
Advertisements for the DH’s ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign will appear on TV and radio in England will run for five weeks from today (28 August) until the end of September with over 100 face-to-face events taking place around the country during this time.
The campaign was piloted in the South West and East of England in January 2011 where GPs saw the number of people over the age of 50 presenting with symptoms of bowel cancer increase by 48% – about one extra patient per practice per week.
It is believed there has already been a 30% increase in patients over 50 reporting key campaign-related symptoms across 340 GP practices thanks to the campaign.
How do you put patients at ease when they are embarrassed about talking about potential symptoms?