Jeremy Bowen is being treated for bowel cancer

Katie Archer

Veteran BBC journalist Jeremy Bowen has said he is being treated for bowel cancer.The broadcaster was BBC’s Middle East correspondent and is also a former BBC Breakfast host, but appeared on his old show this morning (April 1) to talk about the disease for bowel cancer awareness month.

He revealed that he had noticed “funny pains in my legs and back” during a trip to Iraq last May and had been given the diagnosis when he got tested back at home.

(Press Association)

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Bowen, 59, said: “I had no symptoms – none of the classic bowel cancer symptoms. Nothing at all. But I thought I should get a test.”

Talking about his diagnosis, he said it “could have been earlier, but had it been later it would have been much more serious.

“The key thing is: get tested. I’ve been saying to all my friends: get tested.”

Bowen also spoke about the importance of not being embarrassed to go to the doctor about any unusual symptoms.

He said: “Things to do with your bowels and poo are not things people normally want to talk about. But actually it’s part of all our lives and you need to work on it.”

Read more: How to lower your risk of colon cancer

The journalist added that a gastroenterologist had told him: “Don’t die of embarrassment, for God’s sake.”

Bowen had a colonoscopy to diagnose the cancer, surgery to remove the tumour, and is currently undergoing chemotherapy.

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He said: “It’s not nearly as bad as I thought it would be in terms of side effects, but it affects people differently and I think I’ve just been quite lucky to tolerate it better than I expected.

“You’ve got to keep positive about things in life – it’s all part of the journey, as they say on Strictly.”

Public Health England announced last year that screening for bowel cancer would start taking place from the age of 50.