Howard Keel died six weeks after being diagnosed with bowel

In the 1950s, Howard Keel made a name for himself in Annie Get Your Gun (1950), Show Boat (1951), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), and Calamity Jane (1953). Dwindling from the limelight thereafter, Keel’s popularity boomed once more when his career was resuscitated in 1981 by the decade-long TV series Dallas. Taking the role of Clayton Farlow, fellow co-star Larry Hagman told The Associated Press: “He had a difficult role to play…

Older age is a risk factor for developing a cancerous bowel tumour, Cancer Research UK says.

More than 40 percent of cases in the UK, for example, are diagnosed in people aged 75 and older.

Bowel cancer has other non-modifiable risk factors, too, such as having a family history of the disease and having benign polyps in the bowel.

Modifiable risk factors, on the other hand, can include:

  • Eating too much red and processed meat
  • Eating too little fibre
  • Obesity
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Smoking tobacco
  • Alcohol consumption.


As with any type of tumour, the sooner cancer is diagnosed, treatment can begin to improve survival chances.

Possible symptoms of bowel cancer can include:

  • Bleeding from the back passage (rectum) or blood in your poo
  • A change in your normal bowel habit, such as looser poo, pooing more often or constipation
  • A lump that your doctor can feel in your back passage or tummy (abdomen), more commonly on the right side
  • A feeling of needing to strain in your back passage (as if you need to poo), even after opening your bowels
  • Losing weight
  • Pain in your abdomen or back passage
  • Tiredness and breathlessness caused by a lower than normal level of red blood cells (anaemia).

Bowel cancer screening in the UK is currently available to registered GP patients who are between the ages of 60 to 74.

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The NHS adds: “The programme is expanding to make it available to everyone aged 50 to 59 years.

“This is happening gradually over four years and started in April 2021.”

For eligible patients, a home testing kit requires a poo sample that is then sent off to a laboratory to check for tiny amounts of blood.

“Blood can be a sign of polyps or bowel cancer. Polyps are growths in the bowel. They are not cancer, but may turn into cancer over time,” the NHS says.

Even if you do not fall into the age bracket for bowel cancer screening, do report any troublesome symptoms to your doctor.

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer in the UK, which is treatable in the earliest of stages.

Had more awareness of the disease existed when Keel was diagnosed, it’s possible he could have lived for longer.

Howard Keel starred in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which is showcasing on Saturday, January 7 at 12:10pm on Channel 5.

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