Relatives of bowel cancer patients given inadequate support, says charity

Relatives of bowel cancer patients given inadequate support

A new report from charity Beating Bowel Cancer reveals that too many relatives of bowel cancer patients are given inadequate information, support or advice, with a “debilitating” emotional impact on families.

The report reveals that a quarter of people who have lost a loved one to the disease feel that they were given enough support and a third of relatives or friends say they were not given adequate information, advice or support required to help their loved one through the treatment process.

Bowel cancer is one of the most common cancers in the UK, with around 40,000 people diagnosed each year. Signs of possible bowel cancer include a change in bowel habits lasting more than three weeks, abdominal pain, a lump in the abdomen, dark stools, blood in the stools, weight loss and fatigue.

Beating Bowel Cancer says that the long-term emotional impact on families can be significant, but with the right support, it says, some of the associated fears and anxiety can be relieved. It is therefore calling for more support and advice to be made available to families, via health professionals, charities and survivor support groups. Beating Bowel Cancer is hoping to raise £100,000 through its Hidden Heartache Appeal in order to provide support to more families and to produce a new information booklet aimed at providing information and advice to anyone supporting a bowel cancer patient.

“Uncertain” and “helpless”

Father and Child

Mark Flannagan, Chief Executive of Beating Bowel Cancer says: “What is clear from this research is that partners, relatives and close friends of bowel cancer patients can find themselves in a very desperate place.

"Time and time again people said they felt uncertain, helpless and longed for some kind of normality.

“It’s very difficult to say ‘but what about me’ when your loved-one is going through bowel cancer, but the emotional impact on family and friends can be very debilitating. However, with the right support and information their fears and anxieties can be relieved.

"As a charity, we’re here for everyone affected by bowel cancer and would encourage anyone, whether they’ve been diagnosed or are supporting someone who has the disease, to contact us for help and information.”

Can I reduce my risk?

BBQ Meat

Some research suggests that as many as half of bowel cancer cases may be preventable – through eating a healthy diet, being physically active and maintaining a healthy bodyweight. You can reduce your chances of developing bowel cancer by cutting down on processed and red meats, alcohol and fatty foods and increasing your intake of fruit and vegetables.

For more information on the symptoms of bowel cancer, and when you should see your GP, visit Beating Bowel Cancer’s symptom checker.

For a list of support organisations, visit the Cancer Research UK website.

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