Cancer charities issue symptoms appeal after death of football great Pele

Pele has died aged 82 after a battle with bowel cancer, which is the UK’s second biggest cancer killer, according to charities.

Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein said the Brazilian football great died due to multiple organ failure as a result of the progression of colon cancer, a type of bowel cancer.

In September 2021, Pele underwent surgery to remove a tumour from his colon.

He was admitted to the hospital in Sao Paulo in November this year and remained there until his death.

The NHS lists the three main symptoms of bowel cancer as persistent blood in your poo, a persistent change in bowel habit, and persistent lower abdominal pain.

According to the health service, bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in the UK.

It is understood that almost 90% of people who are diagnosed with it are over the age of 60.

Genevieve Edwards, chief executive of Bowel Cancer UK, called it the “second biggest cancer killer” in the UK.

She said: “We’re deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Brazilian footballer, Pele.

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends during this difficult time.”

Ms Edwards continued in a statement: “Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in the UK, with someone dying from the disease every half an hour. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

“Bowel cancer is treatable and curable if diagnosed early.

“Key symptoms to look out for include bleeding from your bottom, blood in your poo, a persistent and unexplained change in bowel habits, unexplained weight loss, extreme tiredness for no obvious reason and a pain or lump in your tummy.

“Most people with these symptoms don’t have bowel cancer, but if you experience one or more of them, you should visit your doctor straight away. They will want to see you and may ask you to do a faecal immunochemical test, known as FIT, at home.

“It’s very easy to do and will help your GP to decide whether your symptoms need further investigation.”

Karis Betts, health information manager at Cancer Research UK, said: “We were very sorry to hear about the death of Pele. This is a huge loss to the footballing world and our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.

“High-profile cancer cases such as Pele’s often act as a prompt to encourage people to find out more or think about their own health.

“Symptoms of colon cancer can include a change in your normal bowel habit or blood in your poo.

“There is no need to remember a full list of symptoms. If you notice any unusual changes to your health, speak to your GP – in most cases it won’t be cancer, but if it is, finding it early can make a real difference.

“Anyone seeking information about cancer can call Cancer Research UK’s information nurses for free on 0808 800 4040 (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm) or visit”