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One in three patients are 'too embarrassed' to talk to their GP about changes to their faeces, despite it being a key indicator of bowel cancer, a DH survey of more than 1,000 people has found.

The findings were released to promote the government's Be Clear on Cancer Campaign, which aims to ensure more people are aware of bowel cancer symptoms, and encourage them to discuss possible symptoms at their general practice.

Care services minister, Paul Burstow, said: 'No one likes thinking about cancer, or talking about their poo. But the plain fact is no one dies of embarrassment, they can die of cancer if they don't get an early diagnosis.

'Early diagnosis makes a huge difference to your chance of survival. That's why we are building on the success of our recent national campaign which led to more people getting checked out by their GP.'

Early analysis of a national pilot campaign, which took place earlier this year, showed a 30 per cent increase in the number of people aged over 50 years old reporting campaign-related symptoms across 340 GP practices.

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