Scary headlines

I really don’t like the way the papers do that “Big C” scare story thing.

They did it today about Chris Evans, the Radio 2 DJ who had a minor procedure to check out some pre-cancerous cells in his bowel. It was thought to be a wise thing to get checked out as there was a genetic pre-disposition to this type of cancer – his father died of colon cancer.

Dramatic headlines then in the body of the copy the truth emerges. Not such a big deal after all.  And when I heard Chris on the radio this morning he sounded pretty perky and strongly advising anyone who has any concerns about “down below” to get it checked asap.  Bowel cancer is extremely treatable when caught in the early stages.

There is a test you can do called a FOB test which stands for faecal occult blood (occult in this sense is not referring to the spooky, but meaning when something abnormal is present that is only discernible microscopically).  So when you are offered screening you get a testing kit through the post. You then smear three separate lots of poop onto the card and return in a hygienically sealed, prepaid envelope. Only two out of every 100 people tested are likely to have a positive result and a positive result simply means go back for further tests – usually a colonoscopy where the colon can be examined further to find the cause of any bleeding.  It can easily be harmless polyps or, like Chris Evans, pre-cancerous cells that can be easily removed. 

Because there is a strong genetic link with bowel cancer (hence Chris’s concern) if you know it has been in your family it definitely worth getting the FOB test.  Bowel cancer in its early stages is symptomless and painless, so good to take early action if you think you are at risk.

In my book Overcoming Cancer you can read about Tim Barnes’ experience of recovering from colon cancer.

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