Bowen thanked for bowel cancer 'bounce'

Jeremy Bowen

Thousands more people have visited the NHS website to find out about bowel cancer after the BBC's Jeremy Bowen revealed he had the disease.

Earlier this week, Bowen, 59, warned people not to "die of embarrassment" rather than talking to a doctor.

NHS England medical director Celia Ingham-Clark thanked him for talking frankly about his diagnosis.

"As a nation we need to stop being so prudish about poo," she said.

The "Bowen bounce", as NHS England calls it, has seen a spike in visits to the bowel cancer information page on the NHS website.

Page views have gone from 1,639 the day before to 4,735 on the day itself.

Ms Ingham-Clark, a leading bowel specialist, said: "How often someone goes and consistency, or finding blood in poo, can be an early indicator that something isn't right.

"Our trips to the toilet can give vital clues to our health which shouldn't be ignored."

'Big thank you'

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK, with 42,000 people diagnosed every year.

The earlier bowel cancer is diagnosed, the better the chances of survival but, only two-in-five bowel cancer patients are diagnosed at stage one or two.

Ms Ingham-Clark said: "A big thank you is owed to Jeremy Bowen for talking about his bowel cancer diagnosis and encouraging people to get tested.

"It's vital to get worrying symptoms checked out as soon as possible so something serious can be ruled out, or people can be referred for testing and treatment."

NHS England is planning to introduce a new bowel cancer screening test, called FIT, which it says can detect the presence of blood in just one gram of poo.

It will eventually be on offer to people in England from the age of 50, rather than the current 60. Screening in Scotland starts at 50.

Symptoms to look out for:

A change in your bowels so you poo more often than is normal for you, lasting more than two weeks.

A change in your poo so it is loose and runny, like diarrhoea, lasting more than two weeks.

Blood in your poo.

A lump in your abdomen.

Losing weight unexpectedly.

A pain in your abdomen that stops you doing your normal activities or which persists for more than a few days

Source: NHS