UK

Visits to NHS bowel cancer screening web pages soar after George Alagiah’s death

There has been a surge in visits to the NHS bowel cancer screening pages following the death of George Alagiah (PA)
There has been a surge in visits to the NHS bowel cancer screening pages following the death of George Alagiah (PA) There has been a surge in visits to the NHS bowel cancer screening pages following the death of George Alagiah (PA)

Thousands of people have sought advice on bowel cancer screening following the death of TV news presenter George Alagiah, new figures show.

NHS England, which runs the nhs.uk website, said that visits to the ‘bowel cancer screening’ page on the NHS website last week saw a 243% increase compared to the week before.

It said that there were over 11,000 visits on Monday – the day it was announced that the presenter had died aged 67.

He was first diagnosed with stage four (advanced) bowel cancer in 2014.

Commenting on the surge in visits to the website, a top cancer doctor said that the news of Alagiah’s death “has made many of us reflect on our own health”.

Professor Peter Johnson, NHS England’s national clinical director for cancer said: “The news of George Alagiah’s death has affected thousands across the country who will have watched him on the television, and has made many of us reflect on our own health.

“These increased visits to NHS England web pages are a positive sign, because educating yourself about what symptoms and risk factors there are for bowel cancer is extremely important, as the earlier it is found, the more treatable it is.

“It’s important to be aware of the symptoms of bowel cancer – so if you have noticed any changes such as blood in your poo, a change in bowel habits or pain and bloating – please do come forward for checks as soon as possible.”

The three main symptoms of bowel cancer are having persistent blood in the stools, an ongoing change in bowel habit (such as needing to go more often or suffering the runs) and persistent lower abdominal pain, bloating or discomfort.

A loss of appetite may also occur, or somebody may suffer significant, unintentional weight loss.

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK and leads to around 16,800 deaths every year.

More than nine out of 10 cases of bowel cancer develop in older adults over the age of 50, and nearly six in 10 are in people aged 70 or older.