PEOPLE are being urged to make themselves aware of the symptoms of bowel cancer.

The plea has been issued after research showed that 39 per cent of people in this region couldn’t name a single sign of the disease – although it is the UK’s second-biggest cancer killer.

Bowel Cancer UK, which commissioned the poll, says early diagnosis of the disease hugely boosts treatment success rates.

As part of Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, the charity is encouraging people to familiarise themselves with the symptoms – and seek help if they have any.

A key sign of the disease is seeing blood when you go for a poo, but only around one third of respondents in the survey were aware of it.

Other indicators that also showed low awareness rates were abdominal pain, which 14 per cent of people could name; a change of bowel habit, ten per cent; weight loss, nine per cent, and unexplained tiredness/fatigue, two per cent.

This month alone, around 3,500 people in the UK will be diagnosed with bowel cancer and over 1,300 will die from the disease.

Bowel Cancer UK says that nearly everyone diagnosed at the earliest stage survives, but that the rate “drops significantly” as the cancer develops. Currently, the cancer is only picked-up at the earliest stage in around 15 per cent of cases.

Genevieve Edwards, for the charity, said: “Bowel cancer remains the UK’s second-biggest cancer killer – and it’s shocking that people aren’t aware of the symptoms.

“If you notice any signs of bowel cancer, or if things just don’t feel quite right, please visit your GP.

“While the disease largely affects people over the age of 50, around 2,500 under-50s are diagnosed each year, so it’s really important people seek advice as soon as possible – whatever their age – if they’re worried.”

She added that the ‘stay at home’ message during the pandemic had unintentionally put some people off visiting their GP with symptoms, because they didn’t want to burden their doctor or risk catching Covid-19. But she said NHS staff had continued to work “incredibly hard” to keep cancer services going.

As part of the awareness month, the charity is staging a Facebook live information session at 12.30pm on Friday April 16, at More about the disease can also be found at