NEWSREADER George Alagiah has now had more than 40 gruelling rounds of chemotherapy in his battle with bowel cancer.

The BBC News at Six host, 63, was first diagnosed in 2014 forcing him to have 17 bouts of treatment and five operations, but it returned last year.

 BBC newsreader George Alagiah had endured 40 gruelling rounds of chemotherapy in his battle with bowel chance

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BBC newsreader George Alagiah had endured 40 gruelling rounds of chemotherapy in his battle with bowel chance

He now says he no longer fears death but is emotional over leaving his wife and sons Adam and Matthew.

Speaking about his chemo, he said: “I think I’m now in my forties or something. I’m having chemo tomorrow and various other sorts of treatments and some of it has been tough but I think it’s about dealing with it in your mind.

“You certainly have to come to terms with it. Especially in my case, five and a half years ago I was in ‘sort your affairs out’ territory.”

On whether he is scared about passing away, he explained: “No I’m not, actually. I’m not for myself, that much I know, and I’ve had to work through it in my head because I’m one scan away from perhaps knowing that that thing is going to happen sooner rather than later.

“I do find it very, very difficult when I think of my loved ones and in particular the woman who has loved me and who I love over the years since 1976, Frances, so that part of it is difficult.”

Speaking on the How To Fail podcast, he also criticised the BBC for the gender pay gap at the corporation, revealed when they published the list of their biggest earners.

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George, who has been with the BBC for 30 years, said: “I’m actually more worried about the gender gap with the people who don’t get published and whether there is a gap there and there shouldn’t be. It does concern me.

“I think the BBC to be fair, and I think my colleagues who are women will accept this, has probably moved faster than lots of organisations, indeed I think there’s evidence to that effect. But it took pressure for it to happen and that’s crazy.”

No time to lose

If it’s caught early, bowel cancer is very treatable, and has a good survival rate.

Those diagnosed at stage one – the earliest stage – have a 97 per cent chance of surviving for five years or more.

That plummets to just seven per cent if you’re diagnosed at stage four, when the cancer has spread.

In England and Wales, everyone over the age of 60 is currently invited to have bowel cancer screening tests every two years. In Scotland screening starts at 50.

That’s why The Sun’s No Time 2 Lose campaign called for screening to start at 50 not 60 – and last year the health secretary Matt Hancock agreed.

But more than a year later, there is still no date for the threshold to change, a move that could save up to 4,500 lives every year.

Bowel cancer is the second deadliest cancer in the UK. Around 42,000 Brits are diagnosed, and 16,000 lose their lives to the disease every year.

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More than nine in ten new cases are in people over the age of 50, but more than 2,500 younger people are diagnosed each year.

However, bowel cancer can be cured if it’s caught early enough through early diagnosis, which is why screening is so important.

A key to early diagnosis is knowing the signs to watch out for.

 Alagiah was awarded an OBE by the Queen in 2008

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Alagiah was awarded an OBE by the Queen in 2008Credit: PA:Press Association
 The newsreader is battling stage four bowel cancer

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The newsreader is battling stage four bowel cancerCredit: PA:Press Association

Symptoms of bowel cancer

IF it’s caught early, bowel cancer is very treatable, and has a good survival rate.

Those diagnosed at stage one – the earliest stage – have a 97 per cent chance of surviving for five years or more.

That plummets to just seven per cent if you’re diagnosed at stage four, when the cancer has spread.

A key to early diagnosis is knowing the signs to watch out for.

The red-flag signs that mean you could have bowel cancer are:

  • bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo
  • a persistant and unexplained change in your bowel habits
  • unexplained weight loss
  • extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
  • a pain or lump in your tummy

Most people with these symptoms won’t have bowel cancer, BUT if you have one or more of these signs it’s vital to see your GP to get checked over.

In some cases, a tumour in the bowel can cause an obstruction, blocking digestive waste from passing through the bowel.

Symptoms of a bowel obstruction can include:

  • intermittent, and occasionally severe, abdominal pain – this is always provoked by eating
  • unintentional weight loss – with persistent abdominal pain
  • constant swelling of the tummy – with abdominal pain
  • vomiting – with constant abdominal swelling
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A bowel obstruction is a medical emergency. If you suspect your bowel is obstructed, you should see your GP quickly.

If this isn’t possible, go to A&E.

George Alagiah back on air presenting BBC One’s News at Six after bowel cancer treatment in 2015







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