A CHARITY is urging people of all ages to familiarise themselves with the symptoms of bowel cancer.

The plea, by Bowel Cancer UK, comes after a survey found that half of people under-50 were unaware they could develop the disease and associated it just with older age groups.

And the research showed that many people who did display symptoms delayed visiting their GP.

Now the charity has published a report, Never Too Young, highlighting the fact that younger people can be diagnosed with the disease and raising awareness of the symptoms.

Genevieve Edwards, for Bowel Cancer UK, said: “The report makes for devastating reading.

“It’s vital that people can recognise the signs of bowel cancer and know it isn’t a disease which only affects older people. Many are delaying getting help for their symptoms at the earliest opportunity, assuming they’re not serious or they will just go away on their own. 

 “What’s also incredibly concerning is that some doctors are ruling out the disease for people who visit with classic ‘red flag’ symptoms, telling them they’re too young to have bowel cancer. Nobody should be told they don’t have bowel cancer based only on their age, and referrals for further investigation should be made as soon as possible. Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in the UK, but it’s treatable and curable, especially when diagnosed early.”

Symptoms can include bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo, a persistent and unexplained change in bowel habit, unexplained weight loss, extreme tiredness for no obvious reason, and a pain or lump in your stomach. For further information, visit bowelcanceruk.org.uk.