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  MP calls for more vigilance on digestive complaints
 

SOUTH NORFOLK MP Richard Bacon is urging people in his constituency to seek medical help if they suffer from a digestive complaint. Mr Bacon's comments were made to coincide with 'Gut Week', 18 - 24 July.

Organised by Core - the digestive disorders foundation, the IBS Network and Yakult, the aim of Gut Week is to increase public awareness of digestive health and encourage people to look after their digestive system by eating healthily and not ignoring unusual symptoms.

In 2002-03 digestive illnesses including colon cancer, liver disease, pancreatitis and diverticular disease accounted for nearly 5,000 deaths and getting on for 53,000 operations in Norfolk Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Strategic Health Authority - of which South Norfolk is a part.

Despite such worrying statistics, a new nation-wide survey shows most people consider many digestive symptoms are too trivial to consult a doctor - and only a quarter can recognise a 'serious' gut disorder.

Mr Bacon said: “It's a real concern that some undiagnosed digestive complaints can kill. Yet, because of taboos, ignorance and embarrassment, many people suffer in silence from an illness that could be treated”.

“If you think you have a digestive problem, go and see your doctor. Early detection could save your life. For example, 80% of bowel cancer cases can be treated successfully if caught early enough”.

Over the last seven years, Gut Week has prompted thousands of people throughout the UK to seek further information, help and advice. The awareness campaign has received support from GPs and nurses, plus endorsement from the Primary Care Society for Gastroenterology and the British Society of Gastroenterology.

For more information and to speak to a specialist nurse in confidence, call the special Gut Week Helpline on 0208 743 4287. The lines are open from 6 pm to 10 pm every evening and 10 am to 12 noon on Saturdays from Monday 18 to Sunday 31 July.