THE Morecambe Bay hospital trust is backing Bowel Cancer Awareness Month by urging anyone with symptoms to visit their GP.

The Bowel Cancer Screening Team, based at Westmorland General Hospital, has been responsible for screening thousands of people and detecting 330 cases since 2008 - and staff are now urging members of the public to ensure they are also ‘clear on bowel cancer’.

“Sometimes bowel problems and symptoms can seem a bit embarrassing but we encourage anyone affected to discuss their concerns with their GP at an early stage and not ignore symptoms for many months or years,” said Colin Brown, clinical director of the centre.

He said anyone over 40 years of age who has experienced rectal bleeding, changes in bowel habit or looser bowels or diarrhoea lasting more than six weeks should see their GP.

“It gives us a much better chance of spotting cancer earlier,” he added.

The disease can be successfully treated in over 90 per cent of cases but is still the second most common cause of cancer deaths in the UK.

But early identification minimises the chance of growth and spread and screening has been shown to reduce the death rate by 16 per cent.

The latest campaign encourages the 60-75 age group to carry out a self-test at home so that any signs of bowel cancer can be detected and treated early. A kit can be requested on number 0800 707 60 60.