BBC’s George Alagiah reveals why he didn’t check survival statistics after bowel cancer diagnosis

"It’s a very unpredictable disease"

Moya Lothian-McLean
Wednesday 20 November 2019 13:03 GMT
(Rex Features)

BBC journalist George Alagiah has discussed his reasons for not researching his chances of survival after being diagnosed with bowel cancer.

Speaking on the Bowel Cancer UK podcast, the newsreader - who has been the face of the BBC’s flagship News At Six broadcast for over a decade - said he decided not to look up any information surrounding survival rates because the disease is so variable.

“I decided I didn’t want to know about the survival statistics It’s a very unpredictable disease,” explained Alagiah.

“You’re good one week and not the next, good chances one year and not the next.”

Alagiah was first diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer in 2014, when it spread to his liver and lymph nodes.

He underwent chemotherapy and more than five operations, but in 2017 the disease returned.

Alagiah now has regular treatment to keep it at bay but has said in the past he is not “scared” to die and he’s come to terms with being “one scan away from perhaps knowing that thing is going to happen sooner rather than later”.

His most recent comments on the disease were made during the first episode of the Bowel Cancer UK podcast’s second series - “In Conversation with George Alagiah: A Bowel Cancer UK podcast’ - which is hosted by the journalist.

During the episode, which sees Alagiah interview Barbara Hibbert, who has a diagnosis of incurable stage four bowel cancer, he also discussed learning to live with his bowel cancer.

“It took me about three to six months after my diagnosis to get to a place of contentment,” he told Hibbert.

“I needed that just to look at my life and say whatever happens, I’m content.”

Around 42,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in the UK, according to Bowel Cancer UK.

Ninety per cent of diagnoses are made in people over the age of 50.

Despite being the fourth most common cancer, it is the second biggest cancer killer, although is extremely treatable if caught in the early stages.

Symptoms include unexplained bleeding from the anus or in faeces, sudden and drastic changes in bowel habits, weight loss and stomach pain.

Please visit Bowel Cancer UK for information on any of the issues raised in this article.

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