A national charity has found that 45 per cent of men in Southwest England would be deterred from visiting their doctor if they suspected a bowel-related illness, according to a report in the Plymouth Herald.

The survey commissioned as part of Bowel Cancer UK's Spotlight on men campaign revealed that despite the fact that bowel cancer is treatable if caught early, when respondents were asked what would deter them from seeking medical help about a suspected bowel-related illness,

  • 21 per cent of men would be worried about what the doctor may find, 
  • 17 per cent would be too embarrassed, 
  • 15 per cent would be too scared, 
  • and 13 per cent said they would feel uncomfortable talking about their symptoms.

Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer-related death in the UK, effectively killing someone every 30 minutes. In Plymouth it is one of the most common cancers in men.
Earlier this year Mark Coleman, colorectal surgeon at Plymouth’s Derriford Hospital and chair of local charity Bowel Cancer West, told The Herald that incidences of bowel cancer are particularly on the increase in men. He said: "Recent national statistics show that 57 per cent of patients are men, and 43 per cent are women. Within Devon and Cornwall, we treat approximately 1,200 bowel cancer patients a year. In Plymouth, at Derriford Hospital, we see just under 400 patients which is split relatively equally between male and female patients.

"However, the message is that the earlier that bowel cancer condition is identified, the better the chance that this can be successfully treated. Bowel cancer is very treatable especially if diagnosed at an early stage, when over 90 per cent can be cured.

"Bowel cancer is on the increase in men. Since the 1970s, the rate of bowel cancer in men has risen by 29 per cent. The good news is that there have been huge improvements in the treatment of bowel cancer in the same period of time. Therefore it is very important for men, who are less likely to want to discuss embarrassing symptoms, to act early.

"It is so important that men have the confidence to discuss any possible signs and symptoms of bowel cancer with their doctor. This may include abdominal cramps, changes in bowel habit or blood identified in their stools. There are a number of contributory factors which are linked to the onset of bowel cancer. Diet plays an important part, and bowel cancer has been linked with the high consumption of processed meat, and lack of fibre from fruit and vegetables. Taking part in moderate exercise is also an important factor"