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Expatriate insurance news: Knowledge of bowel cancer 'could save lives'

Expatriates with international healthcare insurance policies may wish to familiarise themselves with the symptoms of bowel cancer, as it is said greater public understanding of the disease could save lives.

"Too few people are aware" of this ailment, Beating Bowel Cancer chief executive Mark Flannagan said.

However, the World Cancer Research Fund International noted it is the world's third most common form of cancer, accounting for nine per cent of all cases of the illness.

Also known as colorectal cancer, over half of all cases occur in developed regions such as Australasia, Europe and North America, with a million people being diagnosed with it in 2002 alone.

Symptoms include using the toilet more often, looser stools, an abdominal pain that is often severe, lumps in the gut and tiredness.

The public should also look for any unexplained bleeding from the anus, weight loss and changes in bowel habits, Mr Flanagan stated.

"In most cases, it won't be cancer" but ruling this problem out is "essential", he added, recommending that individuals experiencing any of these problems for a period of longer than three weeks visit their doctor or a GP.

"It may be that people are embarrassed to talk about bottoms and bowels" but late diagnoses result in unnecessary deaths, so "this has to change", the expert continued.

The US and UK have both introduced bowel cancer screenings, which can discover the tumours before symptoms have started to develop, cutting the risk of this disease proving to be fatal by 16 per cent.

It can also find polyps, which occasionally develop into cancers but can be removed with a greater ease, reducing the likelihood of an individual suffering from this ailment.

Cases of bowel cancer are strongly correlated with age, with 86 per cent of all occurrences happening in people over 60 years old, according to data from Cancer Research UK.

Men and women generally contract the disease at similar rates until the age of 50, at which point men become more likely to suffer.

Overall, 11 males are diagnosed with colorectal cancer for every ten females.

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