Aldi has pledged to list the signs and symptoms of bowel cancer on all packs of its own brand toilet roll in a bid to raise awareness of the disease.
In an announcement on Wednesday 22 June, the supermarket said the change would support Bowel Cancer UK’s #GetOnARoll campaign after a recent survey by the charity found that almost half of UK adults cannot name a single symptom of the illness.
Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK, with nearly 43,000 people diagnosed every year.
It is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in the UK after lung cancer, taking around 16,500 lives annually.
Symptoms of the disease include changes in bowel habits, blood in faeces, pain in the abdomen, unexplained weight loss and extreme fatigue.
If caught early on, bowel cancer can be cured and nearly everyone diagnosed at an early stage survives, Bowel Cancer UK said.
The charity’s #GetOnARollCampaign is hoping to spread awareness by calling on supermarkets across the UK to put bowel cancer information on their loo roll.
Aldi is among the first to commit to the initiative, after Marks & Spencer and toilet roll brand Andrex announced they would implement the change last month.
Each pack of Aldi’s toilet paper will list five symptoms of the cancer, plus a QR code which customers can scan to find out more information. The grocer estimates the information will be added to 70 million packs every year.
“It’s shocking to learn that almost half of all adults in the UK cannot name a single symptom of bowel cancer,” Julie Ashfield, managing director of buying at Aldi, said.
“When we heard how powerful it could be to simply print the signs and symptoms on loo roll packaging – so they are there when people most need to see them – we were really keen to get involved.
“Spotting signs early is so important, so anything we can do to raise awareness of what people should look out for, and signpost them to Bowel Cancer UK to find out more, is crucial.”
Genevieve Edwards, CEO at Bowel Cancer UK, said low public awareness around the symptoms means that 60 per cent of people are diagnosed at a later stage, when the cancer is much more difficult to treat.
“It’s such a simple idea to share this vital information on loo roll packaging,” Edwards said. “It could help us reach millions more people every year and will undoubtedly help save lives. We want to thank Aldi for taking this step and encourage all other retailers to follow suit.”
Awareness of bowel cancer is starting to improve, with famous figures like Dame Deborah James and presenter Adele Roberts publicly sharing their journey with the disease.
James, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016, announced that she had moved to hospice-at-home care in May.
The BBC podcast host also launched a BowelBabe Fund to raise money for Cancer Research UK. The fund has raised more than £6.7 million so far.