Dame Deborah James influences Andrex to put bowel cancer symptoms on loo roll

Dame Deborah James attends Royal Ascot 2022 at Ascot Racecourse on June 15, 2022 in Ascot, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Royal Ascot)
Dame Deborah James' lobbying has led to more bowel cancer awareness. (Getty Images for Royal Ascot)

Dame Deborah James' call out for more big brand names to display bowel cancer symptoms on loo roll packaging has been met by Andrex.

The popular toilet paper brand has announced it will display the common signs of the disease – the fourth most common cancer and second biggest cancer killer in the UK – on as many as 29 million packs.

This comes after Marks & Spencer announced it would make a similar change to its packaging last month.

Read more: Dame Deborah James calls for bowel cancer symptoms to be displayed on loo roll

Andrex.  (Which?/PA Media)
Andrex has teamed up with Bowel Cancer UK to display a QR code and common symptoms on its packaging. (Which?/PA Media)

The You, Me, and The Big C podcast host, 40, who was diagnosed with the disease in 2016, has kept her thousands of followers up to date about her treatments and progress over the years. Last month, she sadly shared that she has moved to hospice-at-home care to treat her terminal bowel cancer.

But her campaigning is still ongoing, with her raising more than £6 for cancer research via her BowelBabe fund, and lobbying for supermarket brands to include symptoms to look out for, to help with early diagnosis.

Almost half of adults in the UK can’t name a single symptom of bowel cancer, which is the general term for cancer that begins in the large bowel. Knowing the symptoms, and acting on them, means that it can be diagnosed earlier when it is more treatable and curable. But fewer than 40% of people are diagnosed at the earliest stages.

Read more: What is bowel cancer? Signs and and symptoms to be aware of

Handout photo dated 24/05/22 issued by the Harkness Rose Company of Dame Deborah James, with her husband Sebastien Bowen, during a private tour at the Chelsea Flower Show on Tuesday evening. Dame Deborah visited the show with her husband to see a rose which bears her name. Issue date: Friday May 27, 2022. (The Harkness Rose Company/PA Media0
Dame Deborah James did a call out asking more big brands to put signs and symptoms on their loo roll. (The Harkness Rose Company/PA Media)

So in order to help change this and save lives, Andrex has teamed up with Bowel Cancer UK in a new partnership, as part of the charity's #GetOnARoll campaign.

Andrex will be adding bowel cancer information, including where to find help on signs and symptoms of the disease, onto its packaging, to be visible across nearly 30 million packs of Andrex Classic Clean from September.

The aim is to then update all packaging on the full Andrex loo roll range within the next year (over 90 million packs), which means that the crucial information will be available in more than one in three UK households.

Buyers will be able to scan a printed QR code redirecting them to the charity's website to find out more.

Andrex has also pledged to make an initial donation of £65,000 to Bowel Cancer UK, to contribute to its wider work of saving lives and improving the quality of life of everyone affected by the condition.

The signs of bowel cancer you should be aware of include:

  • Bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your bowel movements

  • A persistent and unexplained change in bowel habit

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason

  • A pain or lump in your tummy

Read more: Cervical Screening Awareness Week: 12 things people wish they knew about smear tests

"We’re incredibly honoured to partner with Bowel Cancer UK in helping to raise awareness of the disease through our Andrex brand," said Dan Howell, VP & Managing Director UK&I at Kimberly-Clark.

"Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK with the second highest mortality rate. Our announcement today is just the start of our work with the charity, and we’re committed to making it an ongoing partnership."

Genevieve Edwards, CEO of Bowel Cancer UK, added, ‘We’re thrilled to partner with Andrex to raise vital awareness of bowel cancer symptoms with people all over the country. It’s the UK’s fourth most common cancer, with someone diagnosed with the disease every 15 minutes in the UK.

"Bowel cancer is treatable and curable especially if diagnosed early, but 60% of people are diagnosed at later stages when it is much more difficult to treat. Part of the problem is low awareness of the red flag symptoms of bowel cancer that should prompt people to contact their GP.

"This brilliant partnership will help millions of people across the UK know what to look out for and will undoubtedly save lives."

Watch: Dame Deborah James calls for brands to include bowel cancer symptoms on toilet roll

Speaking in a video message on Lorraine earlier this month, Dame James acknowledged the achievement of her friend Cara Hoofe – who was diagnosed with bowel cancer at 32 – who was the one to successfully pitch the idea to her employer.

"It’s the start of things to come. I think we should do a big shout out to other companies now saying, like, ‘Where's your signs and symptoms?

"Forget about the puppies — I’m bored of the puppies," she continued. "We need actual information signposted on those loo rolls. So I'm hoping that lots of other big brands will now go, ‘Yeah, hang on. This makes massive sense. This is what we need to be doing.’

"So I can't wait to see that happen. And a massive, massive well done to you."

You can help Bowel Cancer UK #GetOnARoll by Tweeting your supermarket to get the symptoms of bowel cancer on your loo roll.

To find our more information about bowel cancer and what support you might find useful, visit Bowel Cancer UK, or call The Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 0000 seven days a week 8am-8pm, or call Cancer Research UK's cancer nurses on 0808 800 4040 Monday to Friday 9am-5pm.