George Alagiah ‘grateful for support’ as cancer returns

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George Alagiah returned to the screens in January

BBC newsreader George Alagiah is to begin another round of treatment for bowel cancer, his agent has confirmed.

His agent Mary Greenham added in a statement he would “aim to be on-air as much as possible but may need to reduce his workload”.

“He is always grateful to the public for the tremendous support he has received.”

The BBC One News at Six presenter was first treated in 2014 but revealed in 2017 the cancer had returned.

Alagiah, 63, who has presented BBC News At Six for more than 10 years, returned to the BBC newsroom in January.

It was the first time he’d been seen on screen since December 2017.

He said then he was “overwhelmed” by supportive comments from viewers welcoming him back.

He explained on Twitter the cancer was “in a holding pattern”, which meant he could work again.

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After Alagiah’s initial diagnosis in 2014, the disease spread to his liver and lymph nodes, which needed treatment with several rounds of chemotherapy and three large operations, including one to remove most of his liver.

He returned to work in 2015, but had to take more time out in 2017 when he was told that his stage four bowel cancer had returned.

Earlier this year, the Sri Lanka-born newsreader hosted a Bowel Cancer UK podcast called In Conversation With George Alagiah, in which he spoke about his treatment and living with the disease.

Bowel cancer is the UK’s fourth most common cancer and second biggest killer cancer, with more than 16,000 people dying from the disease every year, the charity said.

What is bowel cancer?

  • Bowel cancer (also known colorectal cancer because it occurs in the large intestine or colon and rectum) is common and treatable
  • Over 40,000 people are diagnosed with it every year in the UK
  • Spotting and managing it early gives the best chance of beating bowel cancer
  • More than nine in 10 people with early stage bowel cancer will survive the disease for five years or more after diagnosis
  • Symptoms can include a change in bowel habit (looser stools), tummy pain, bloating or discomfort and blood in your poo
  • People with these symptoms may not have bowel cancer but it is worth getting checked by a doctor
  • People who have survived bowel cancer have a higher risk of getting a separate new cancer
  • There is also a chance that cancer can come back in the bowel close to the original site (local recurrence) or in another part of the body (advanced or secondary cancer)

Source: Bowel Cancer UK, Cancer Research UK and NHS Choices.

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