Jeremy Bowen: BBC journalist reveals bowel cancer diagnosis

‘You've got to keep positive about things in life’

Sabrina Barr
Monday 01 April 2019 16:42
BBC journalist Jeremy Bowen diagnosed with bowel cancer

BBC journalist Jeremy Bowen has been diagnosed with bowel cancer.

Bowen has worked as the BBC's Middle East editor since 2005.

The 59-year-old revealed his diagnosis on BBC Breakfast on Monday, stating that he started experiencing “funny pains” in his legs and back while working in Iraq last May.

Bowen explained that while at first he showed no symptoms of bowel cancer, in October he was informed of his positive cancer diagnosis.

"When I came back [from Iraq] I had to go to hospital for a couple of days, but they didn't mention cancer. They said it was to do with some scar tissue I had from some previous surgery," Bowen said.

"I went to my GP and I had no symptoms, none of the classic bowel cancer symptoms. I got a test and it came back positive."

After discovering that he had bowel cancer, Bowen had surgery to remove a cancerous tumour.

The journalist is having chemotherapy, which he said "is not nearly as bad as I thought it would be in terms of side effects".

"I think I've just been quite lucky to tolerate it," he added.

"You've got to keep positive about things in life. It's all part of the journey."

Bowen said he hopes that by speaking openly about his diagnosis, he will inspire more people to get tested.

"I have kept quiet about it, except to my nearest and dearest and friends and so on," the journalist said.

"If me coming on your programme means that a few extra people get tested and as a result get their cancers caught, then it's time well spent."

Bowen, who is now a patron of the Bowel Cancer UK charity, said that people he knows have been "queuing up at their doctors to get tested as a result of the diagnosis that I had".

The journalist's decision to discuss his diagnosis coincides with Bowel Cancer Awareness Month in April.

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Symptoms of bowel cancer can include abdominal pain after eating, a change in your usual bowel habits and blood in the stool without symptoms of haemorrhoids, the NHS states.

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common form of cancer in the UK, Cancer Research UK says.

The charity adds that there are more than 110 new cases of bowel cancer in the UK every day.

To speak to a Cancer Research UK nurse, you can call 0808 800 4040. The helpline is free and open from Monday to Friday, from 9am until 5pm.

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