Grow a beard to help beat bowel cancer

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Stoptober has gone, Movember is over and Dry January is lying in wait after the period of Christmas indulgence.

But Decembeard has only just begun – and Nottinghamshire men are being urged to join in.

The hairgrowing crusade sees men ditching their razors and growing a beard to raise awareness of bowel cancer.

Bowel cancer is the second biggest killer of men and women in the UK and is the most common cause of death in men after lung cancer.

Dr Gavin Lunn, of NHS Mansfield and Ashfield clinical commissioning group, said: “Bowel cancer is one of the most treatable cancers if caught early, yet remains one of the biggest killers.

“This suggests we can do more to improve awareness of the symptoms and for older people to look out for their home screening tests and return them.”

People aged 60 to 74 are automatically sent an invitation and a screening kit to do a test for bowel cancer at home.

The kit is a simple way to collect small stool samples on a special card at home.

People then send the card in a hygienically sealed, prepaid envelope to a laboratory.

They will be posted the results within two weeks.

Dr Lunn said: “Lack of exercise, obesity, high alcohol intake and smoking are all factors of bowel cancer. Family history is also a factor.

“Almost nine in 10 cases of bowel cancer are in patients over the age of 60.”

Decembeard is hosted by national charity Beating Bowel Cancer, which has been saving lives from the disease by raising awareness of symptoms, promoting early diagnosis and encouraging open access to treatments.

Decembeard participants will grow their beards during December to help raise funds and awareness for the charity.

The campaign has been backed by famous personalities including comedian and actor Eddie Izzard, whose mother died from bowel cancer, and ex-England rugby union star Matt Dawson, who lost his grandfather to the disease.

Ashley Booker, content editor at the Derbyshire Times newspaper, who lives in Mansfield, has decided to grow his beard for the good cause.

He said: “I was surprised to hear so many people die from bowel cancer and that many of these deaths could be prevented if people did their home screening tests, or got themselves checked out when they show symptoms that could indicate they have a problem.

“I can grow quite a good beard and thought it was a good way to raise awareness of a disease that kills more people than it should.”

People should go and see their doctors if they experience the following symptoms: Blood in faeces; More frequent, looser stools; And/or abdominal pain.

Are you growing your beard for Decembeard? Share your pictures and stories – email helen.beighton@jpress.co.uk