PEOPLE who suspect they may be experiencing symptoms of bowel cancer have been urged to get checked out.

Stephanie Peacock, who represents Barnsley East, spoke out for Bowel Cancer Awareness Month.

The earlier bowel cancer is spotted, the more likely survival is as when it is caught in its early stages, nine out of ten patients survive the illness.

However, the MP said too many people do not test soon enough, or do not know the signs to look out for such as bleeding, unexplained weight loss or fatigue.

The borough’s screening rate for bowel cancer is 67.4 per cent, as of last year – higher than the national average of 65.2 per cent and Yorkshire and Humber average of 66.8 per cent.

Stephanie said: “April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, a chance to fundraise and spread awareness of the signs and symptoms of bowel cancer. The sooner patients receive a diagnosis, the more likely survival is.

“I would encourage anyone who notices anything unusual to get it checked by a GP as soon as possible. Thank you to all the amazing charities doing important work in this area.”

Barnsley Hospital has been leading trials of a disposable, swallowable ‘pill camera’ which is hoped to speed up diagnosis and encourage more people to come forward – people who might otherwise be put off by invasive procedures.

Dr David Crichton, chief medical officer for NHS South Yorkshire, added: “The majority of people survive bowel cancer if diagnosed at the earliest stage. However, this drops significantly as the disease progresses.

“Early diagnosis really does save lives, and that’s why Bowel Cancer Awareness Month is so important because we need to encourage more people with bowel cancer symptoms to get themselves checked as early as possible.”

People in Barnsley with ‘red flag’ bowel cancer symptoms could bypass the GP and be fast-tracked to hospital for diagnostic tests as part of a new research study.

Funded by Yorkshire Cancer Research and led by researchers at the University of Sheffield, the trial aims to demonstrate how community pharmacies can be used to speed up the detection of bowel cancer while relieving pressure on the NHS.

Dr Stuart Griffiths, director of research at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said: “Each year, more than 1,000 people locally are diagnosed with bowel cancer, and half of these cancers are found at a late stage.

“Raising awareness of symptoms is an important way to improve early diagnosis. It’s vital that when people do come forward for medical advice, they are able to benefit from diagnostic tests as soon as possible.”