Christmas countdown #14 – to beard or not to beard

Decembeard swiftly follows Movember (which raises awareness for all men’s health issues) to specifically profile bowel cancer, and it’s not just Santa Claus who actively takes part in this fundraising effort.

The campaign, run by charity Bowel Cancer UK, is asking our hairy male population to grow a beard throughout December to help stop people dying of bowel cancer. Around 42,000 people a year are diagnosed with it but the charity’s immediate concern is that thousands of people are experiencing delays in diagnosis and treatment due to coronavirus and, at a time when their services are needed more than ever, they’re facing a 40% drop in income. They hope that by taking part in this year’s Decembeard campaign, vital funds will be raised to help ensure they can save lives and improve the quality of life of all those affected by bowel cancer.

The figures are startling and show that bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer, however its is treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early. In fact 90% of people will survive if diagnosed at the earliest stage. So knowing the symptoms is key to diagnosis.

To detect cases of bowel cancer sooner, the NHS offers two types of screening to adults registered with a GP in England. At present, all men and women aged 60 to 74 are invited to carry out a FIT or FOB test. Every 2 years, they’re sent a home test kit, which is used to collect a sample. The second, additional one-off test, called bowel scope screening, is gradually being introduced in England and is offered to men and women at the age of 55.

Bowel Cancer UK offers plenty of advice on how to reduce the risk of getting bowel cancer which includes looking at your diet, physical activity and reducing alcohol and smoking. Read the full details here. If you need help or advice about how to look after yourself better and make a few positive changes, the WISH Herefordshire website has lots of useful information on their ‘Keeping well, staying healthy’ pages – click here to find out more.

Photo: Brian Wiltshire’s entry in the Ross in Lockdown photo competition 2020 – winning 2nd place in the ‘NHS’ category

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