TENS of thousands more Brits have been tested for bowel cancer thanks to Dame Deborah James' powerful messaging.
The inspirational Sun columnist was diagnosed with the illness when she was just 35-years-old.
From then on, the mum-of-two made it her mission to 'break the poo taboo', encouraging people to get any strange bowel signs and symptoms checked out.
She was a fierce campaigner until her death on June 28 this year.
But just as she hoped, her legacy has lived on, with new data from NHS England revealing her true reach.
Figures for June 2022 show that 96,774 people living in England were on the waiting list for bowel investigations.
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This is higher than rates seen in May, when there were 94,237 on the list.
Deborah's impact can be seen over the whole of last year, with 87,836 people waiting this time last year.
The figures show that more and more people are coming forward with their concerns and being referred for life-saving tests.
But as always, there is still more that needs to be done as demand for these tests increases.
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Waiting lists far outweigh the number of appointments available – meaning Brits will have to wait even longer for a referral.
Experts at Bowel Cancer UK stated that over half of people urgently referred for bowel cancer investigations were waiting longer than 28 days for diagnosis, or to have a cancer ruled out.
Of these 96,774 people waiting for tests, 37 per cent had to wait more than six weeks for an endoscopy, a colonoscopy or flexi-sigmoidoscopy which can diagnose bowel cancer.
The data also found that nearly 21 per cent of people also had to wait more than 13 weeks.
Early diagnosis can help saves lives, and while many of these people may not have had bowel cancer, it's important they are seen as quickly as possible.
Genevieve Edwards, chief executive at the charity said the spotlight on bowel cancer has never been so bright thanks to Deborah's campaigning.
"As she would always say "make sure you check your poo".
The signs of bowel cancer you need to know – remember BOWEL
There are several possible causes of bleeding from your bottom, of blood in your poo.
Bright red blood could come from swollen blood vessels, haemorrhoids or piles, in your back passage.
Dark red or black blood could come from your bowel or stomach.
Blood in your stools is one of the key signs of bowel cancer, so it’s important to mention it to your doctor so they can investigate.
2. O: Obvious change in loo habits
It’s important to tell your GP if you have noticed any changes in your bowel habits, that lasts three weeks or longer.
It’s especially important if you have also noticed signs of blood in your poo.
You might notice you need to go to the loo more often, you might have looser stools or feel like you’re not going enough or fully emptying your bowels.
Don’t be embarrassed, your GP will have heard a lot worse! Speak up and get it checked.
3. W: Weight loss
This is less common than the other symptoms, but an important one to be aware of. If you’ve lost weight and don’t really know why, it’s worth mentioning to your GP.
You may not feel like eating, feel sick, bloated and not hungry.
4. E: Extreme tiredness
Bowel cancer that causes bleeding can cause a lack of iron in the body – anaemia. If you develop anaemia you’re likely to feel tired and your skin might look pale.
5. L: Lump or pain
As with lots of other forms of cancer, a lump or pain can be a sign of bowel cancer.
It’s most likely you’ll notice a pain or lump in your stomach or back passage
"It’s excellent news that people recognise the symptoms of bowel cancer and are contacting their GP when they spot them.
"It's equally good that their concerns are being taken seriously because we know how important it is to rule out bowel cancer first and fast.
"Early diagnosis is vital – bowel cancer is treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early. Nearly everyone diagnosed at the earliest stage will survive bowel cancer, but this drops significantly as the disease develops."
It was recently revealed that thousands of lives could be saved each year with gut checks.
Posting bowel cancer screening kits to NHS patients every year instead of every two years could boost early diagnosis, Cancer Research UK found.
A study by the University of Sheffield suggested 13.6 per cent more people would send samples if kits were sent every year.
This could save the lives of at least 11,000 people already over 50 who are expected to die of the disease, it found.
Genevieve added that the biggest barrier to improving early diagnosis is the workforce shortages in diagnosis services.
"The new Prime Minister must urgently address this in the upcoming 10-Year Cancer Plan to meet the ambition to diagnose 75% of cancers early by 2028," she added.
Bowel cancer is one of the UK’s most common cancers, with 43,000 cases and 17,000 deaths every year.
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The NHS sends stool sample collection kits to over-50s in England so labs can check people’s poo for signs of blood – a possible sign of a tumour.
Other symptoms include needing to go to the toilet more often and gut pain.
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