With great beard comes great responsibility

Raising money for bowel cancer the natural way

December is no longer December...it's Decembeard!

You've done the moustache thanks to Movember; what about a beard for Decembeard?

Decembeard is the month of raising awareness of Bowel Cancer around the world. All you need to do is have a clean shave on 30th November and let your facial fuzz grow throughout December. If you’re already bearded you can just dye, ditch or decorate your beard instead - anything - and get sponsored to raise funds for Bowel Cancer UK.

Of course, there's serious message behind this

Bowel cancer means a cancer that starts in the colon (large bowel) or back passage (rectum). It is also known as colorectal cancer. Cancers can also occur in the small bowel.

Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in men in the UK, with over 20,000 cases a year. It's the third most common cause of cancer death in males in the UK and one in 15 UK males will be diagnosed with bowel cancer in their lifetime.

In females in the UK, bowel cancer is the third most common cancer and the third most common cause of cancer death, with around 7,500 deaths in 2016.

See more statistics.

Who is at risk?

Factors include:

  • Age: more than 94% of new cases are diagnosed in people over the age of 50 and nearly 60% are diagnosed in people aged 70 or over. However, bowel cancer can affect anyone of any age. More than 2,500 new cases are diagnosed each year in people under the age of 50
  • Genetics and family history: those with a parent, brother/sister, son/daughter diagnosed with bowel cancer are more than doubly at risk
  • Diet and lifestyle: 13% of bowel cancer cases in the UK are caused by eating processed meat and the risk is increased by eating red meat. 11% of bowel cancer cases in the UK are caused by being overweight or obese, 6% by drinking alcohol and 7% by smoking. 5% of cases are caused by too little physical activity and 28% by eating too little fibre
  • Medical conditions: Bowel cancer risk is higher in people with type-2 diabetes and those with inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative or Crohn's colitis), familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or Lynch syndrome
  • Radiation.

Possible symptoms of bowel cancer

  • Bleeding from the back passage (rectum) and/or blood in your poo
  • A change in your normal bowel habit
  • A lump your doctor can feel in your back passage or abdomen
  • A feeling of needing to strain in your back passage (as if you need to poo), even after opening your bowels
  • Losing weight
  • Pain in your abdomen or back passage
  • Tiredness and breathlessness.

See your doctor if you notice a change that isn’t normal for you or if you have any of the possible signs and symptoms of cancer.

Bowel cancer screening

Detecting bowel cancer before symptoms appear means it is easier to treat and there is a better chance of survival. A new improved home test kit for screening is now available called a FIT test, which is used to detect and quantify the amount of human blood in a single stool sample. An abnormal result requires further investigation. The FIT test is easy!

  • It only needs a single sample
  • It’s more sensitive so detects abnormalities more easily
  • No need for repeat tests.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland people over the age of 60 are invited to take part in bowel cancer screening. In Scotland, screening starts from age 50. You will be invited to take part in screening every two years until you reach the age of 75.