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    Private GP Services & Occupational Healthcare in Edinburgh, UK.

    Smashing the “poo taboo” for Dame Deborah

    Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

    Posted on March 19th, 2024

    In December 2016 journalist Deborah James, AKA “the Bowel Babe”, was diagnosed with incurable bowel cancer. She died five years later, aged just 40. But the legacy she left behind was incredible – she spread awareness through her ‘You, Me and the Big C’ podcast and raised more than £10million for research into the disease. This month, the team at YourGP are taking inspiration from Dame Deborah and doing our bit to “smash the poo taboo” as she called it – just in time for Bowel Cancer Awareness Month.

    Bowel cancer – the basic facts

    Bowel cancer is cancer that begins in the large bowel, which comprises the colon and rectum. It is sometimes referred to as colorectal cancer and it is the fourth most common type of cancer in the UK. More than 16,800 people die from bowel cancer in the UK every year, but the good news is that the earlier it is spotted, the more treatable it is. In fact, more than 9 in 10 people survive the disease when it is diagnosed at its earliest stage.

    What causes bowel cancer?

    Scientists have not yet pinpointed exactly what causes bowel cancer, but we do know there are certain factors that can increase your risk of getting the disease. These factors include:

    • Being aged over 50
    • A history of bowel cancer in the family
    • A history of polyps in your bowel
    • Conditions such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
    • Type 2 diabetes

    In addition, there are also various lifestyle factors that put you at higher risk of developing bowel cancer. In fact, according to Cancer Research UK, 54% of bowel cancer cases in the UK are preventable. Lifestyle factors include:

    • Eating processed meat
    • Eating too little fibre
    • Drinking alcohol
    • Being overweight
    • Smoking
    • Not getting enough exercise
    • Being exposed to ionising radiation (such as from the sun, X-rays and microwaves)

    Screening in Scotland

    If you are aged between 50 and 74 and live in Scotland, you will automatically be sent an NHS bowel cancer home screening test kit in the post every two years. This test kit is called a faecal immunochemical test (FIT). You use it to collect a small sample of poo in the comfort of your own home, then you send it to a lab to be checked for tiny amounts of blood. If the test finds anything unusual, you will be referred for a hospital appointment to have further tests.

    Notice something different? Speak up!

    If you notice anything unusual, don’t wait for your home screening – book an appointment to see your GP right away. Symptoms to look out for include:

    • Bleeding from your bottom
    • Blood in your poo
    • A change in your toilet habits, for example needing the toilet more or less often, having diarrhoea or constipation
    • Unexplained weight loss
    • Feeling tired
    • Pain in your stomach area

    It is important to note that experiencing any of these symptoms does not necessarily mean you have bowel cancer, but it is vital to get checked out, nonetheless.

    Book an appointment at YourGP

    The team at YourGP understand how worrying it is to experience unusual symptoms. That’s why we offer same-day appointments six days a week, so you can be seen by an experienced GP as soon as possible, putting your mind at rest or getting you the necessary treatment without delay.

    You can choose a date and time that suits you via our simple online booking system, or you can email Alternatively, you call us on 0131 225 5656, or arrange a call back via our website.

    And finally…

    “By talking about cancer, in all its guises, we make it more normal. We can break down taboos and stop people feeling embarrassed. The difference between an early and late diagnosis is the difference between life and death in many cases”

    Dame Deborah James

    Received injections from Lynn at the surgery. Hadn’t had an injection in 12 years, so was terrified walking through the front door at first. My mind was put at ease instantly. Very nice people, was given lots of great advice, and the injections were a piece of cake. Couldn’t be happier. Recommended!

    Lee S

    YourGP is regulated by Healthcare Improvement Scotland – the regulator for independent healthcare services across Scotland. Healthcare Improvement Scotland accepts complaints at any time. Contact them at:

    Independent Healthcare Team
    Gyle Square | 1 South Gyle Crescent | Edinburgh | EH12 9EB
    0131 623 4342 |

    YourGP is registered with the Joint Council of Cosmetic Practitioners (JCCP) Registered Office: Station Road, North Street, Havant PO9 1QU.