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Decembeard 2023


As Movember comes to an end, another awareness day is on the horizon. Decembeard is a campaign created to raise awareness for bowel cancer. In this guide, we highlight the importance of understanding what bowel cancer is, what the signs of bowel cancer are, and how you can get involved in Decembeard this year.

  • What Is Bowel Cancer?
  • The Need For Early Detection of Bowel Cancer
  • What is Decembeard 2023?
  • How to Get Involved in Decembeard in the UK?
  • Take Control of Your Health Today


What Is Bowel Cancer?

Bowel cancer is cancer that originates in either the small or large intestine. The bowel is made up of different parts and makes up a large portion of your digestive tract. Depending on where it is located within the bowel, there can be different names for this type of cancer. For example, cancer of the small intestine is referred to as small bowel cancer and cancer of the colon or rectum is known as colorectal cancer.

Most bowel cancers stem from non-cancerous growths called Polyps. These growths have the potential to develop into cancer, but not all polyps evolve into cancer. This means if polyps are detected in the bowels, they can be removed to lower the risk of cancer in the future.

Symptoms of Bowel Cancer

Knowing the symptoms of bowel cancer can aid in early detection, making it easier to treat. The common symptoms include:

  • Bleeding from the anus and/or blood in your stool
  • A persistent and unexplained change in bowel habits
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme tiredness
  • A pain or lump in your stomach

It must be noted that if you have any of these symptoms, it does not necessarily mean you have bowel cancer. However, if you do have any of the above symptoms, you should make an appointment with your GP.


The Need For Early Detection of Bowel Cancer

Detecting bowel cancer early can make it easier to treat and provide people with higher chances of survival. Testing for bowel cancer is available to people over the age of 50, depending on where you live in the UK.

In England, the screening age is being gradually reduced, meaning over the next few years, people aged 50 and older will be offered a bowel cancer screening. In Scotland, the minimum age for screening is 50. In Wales, people aged between 51-74 are offered a screening. In Northern Ireland, you must be aged 60 or older to be supplied with a screening test.

If you are under the age of 50 but show symptoms of bowel cancer, you must go to your GP, and they will arrange for you to undergo screening.

Bowel Cancer Screening

In the UK, bowel cancer screening involves a faecal immunochemical test (FIT). This is a home test that is sent to your doorstep. If you are within the age limit to receive a bowel cancer screening test, you will be automatically sent an NHS bowel cancer screening kit every two years.

Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT)

The FIT is used to test for any hidden blood in a stool sample. A small stool sample will need to be taken and sent to a laboratory using the provided envelope. Instructions are also provided with the FIT, so make sure you read them carefully before testing.

Test results should be received within two weeks of sending your sample. If blood is found in your stool sample, you will likely be referred for further testing. This does not necessarily mean you have bowel cancer; there may be something else causing the bleeding, which will need to be investigated.


It is important to continue testing every two years, even if you have returned a negative test this time, as cancer can still develop within that time. Do not assume you have the all-clear for the rest of your life. Testing every regularly not only provides peace of mind, but if you do develop any other symptoms within those two years, they are more likely to be picked up and treated.

Pros and Cons of Bowel Cancer Screening

As with many things, there are pros and cons of bowel cancer screening tests. It is a choice whether you wish to take part in the screening programme, so it is a good idea to make an informed decision.

Benefits of Bowel Cancer Screening

  • Having a bowel cancer screening can help detect early signs of bowel cancer. An early diagnosis can increase your chances of successful treatment.
  • The screening can also detect non-cancerous polyps. Removing polyps can help minimise your risk of getting bowel cancer in the future.
  • Overall, bowel cancer screenings can lower your risk of dying from bowel cancer in the future.

Risks of Bowel Cancer Screening

  • Cancer can be missed if the stool sample does not contain blood.
  • A false positive result could occur. This can be due to a number of reasons, including other medical problems, food and medicines.
  • The screening only occurs every two years meaning symptoms of bowel cancer could develop between screening tests. It is important to speak to your GP if you develop any symptoms or are worried about bowel cancer.

Private Screening

Private screenings are also available to those who don’t have symptoms of bowel cancer and don’t meet the age requirements for the NHS screening programme. Testing kits are available for those who choose to pay privately for a test. At Home Health, we offer a range of bowel cancer testing kits, including various Faecal Occult Blood tests. If you need any future advice, please get in touch with us today, and one of our experts will be happy to help.

Treatments for Bowel Cancer

There are a few different methods for treating bowel cancer. A multi-disciplinary team will be assigned to you. By looking at your test results and assessing your general health, the best treatment plan for you will be created by your doctors. From chemotherapy to radiotherapy, there are different treatments available to you should you be diagnosed with bowel cancer.


What is Decembeard 2023?

Decembeard is organised by Bowel Cancer UK to help raise awareness of bowel cancer, support friends and family and fund research. Decembeard takes place in the whole month of December. The main message of Decembeard is to inform people of the symptoms of bowel cancer to help early detection.

The concept of Decembeard is to grow a beard, if you can, to start a conversation about bowel cancer. By starting this conversation, more people can be informed of bowel cancer and its symptoms to help raise awareness.


How to Get Involved in Decembeard in the UK

There are no particular rules in taking part in Decembeard. You don’t have to be able to grow a beard in order to participate! There are various events and activities you can do to help spread awareness in December.

1. Grow a Beard

If you are able to, why not grow a beard in December to help raise awareness for bowel cancer in the UK? Get the conversation started by sharing your journey across your social media. Using hashtags such as #Decembeard and #GrowYourBeard will help you connect with other participants and supporters of the campaign.

2. Start Fundraising

Raising funds for Bowel Cancer UK is another way you can help. Setting up fundraising events or even growing a beard can be ways to not only spread awareness but also raise funds. There are also lots of Decembeard fundraising events that you can participate in if you don’t want to set up your own.

3. Share Resources

There are plenty of educational materials available to you on the topic of bowel cancer. You can use these to not only inform yourself of bowel cancer but also spread awareness to your network to ensure as many people as possible know of the symptoms of bowel cancer.


Take Control of Your Health Today

Decembeard is a pivotal time for us to unite and make a significant impact in the fight against bowel cancer. By gaining insight into the fundamentals of this disease and emphasizing the significance of early detection, we can collaborate to support those impacted and advance research and awareness.

Now, it’s your opportunity to contribute. In honouring Decembeard, we urge you to take a proactive approach. One way to do this is by prioritising your well-being. Early detection is crucial, and Home Health UK offers professional blood tests for bowel cancer, helping you stay informed on your health.


Decembeard FAQs

What are the symptoms of bowel cancer?

There are a few common symptoms of bowel cancer such as:

  • Bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your stool
  • Persistent and unexplained change in bowel habit
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme tiredness for no reason
  • A pain or lump in your stomach

These symptoms do not definitely mean you have bowel cancer, but you should speak to your GP if you do have any of these symptoms.

Is bowel cancer curable?

If detected early, bowel cancer is both treatable and curable. Early detection is important to increase your chance of successfully treating bowel cancer so it is crucial to speak to your GP if you have any symptoms and to take part in the bowel cancer screening process if you are eligible.

What causes bowel cancer?

Genetic and environmental factors can make you more predisposed to getting bowel cancer. These factors include if:

  • You are over 50
  • You smoke
  • You’re overweight
  • A close relative has bowel cancer
  • You have inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
  • You have polyps in your bowels
  • You have Lynch Syndrome or familial adenomatous polyposis

Is bowel cancer hereditary?

It is possible that bowel cancer is hereditary. Approximately 5-10% of all bowel cancer cases are predicted to be caused by a change in the same gene. This changed gene can be passed down and inherited in a family, meaning if you have this particular gene, you may have a high risk of developing bowel cancer in the future.

Can a blood test detect bowel cancer?

It is rare that a routine blood test will lead to a bowel cancer diagnosis. However, there are specific blood tests available to identify different tumour markers. The main test used to identify potential bowel cancer in the UK is a faecal immunochemical test (FIT).

How to check for bowel cancer?

In the UK, a faecal immunochemical test (FIT) is used to screen for bowel cancer. These tests are automatically sent to people over the age of about 50 years old, depending on where you live in the UK. Additionally, if you have any symptoms of bowel cancer, you should go see your GP.


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