The importance of taking up the offer of bowel cancer screening was amplified recently with the death of the BBC news presenter George Alagiah.
He was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2014. At the time he was 58 and so not eligible for the screening kits. He campaigned to decrease the age to 50 and thanks to his efforts this is being rolled out in a phased way across England.
His final tweet in May this year urged everyone who is sent a kit to do the test. It takes less than a minute and really could save your life.
This life saving message is amplified by one of north Cumbria’s leading consultants who helps diagnose and treat cancer.
Mr Frank Hinson is a consultant endoscopist at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust.
He said: “In our area around 30% of the kits that are sent are not returned. It is a fact that the earlier bowel cancer is found the better the likelihood of successful treatment. These tests can save lives.
“Most people (98.7 per cent) will get a normal result. Even when the test is positive, less than one in 11 people will actually have cancer.
“It is much more common to find polyps in the bowel. These can be easily removed during a bowel examination. As most bowel cancers start off in polyps, this actually prevents many cancers from even starting.
“If it is cancer it may be so small that no major surgery will be required. Even if surgery is required, the chances of a permanent cure are much better when cancer is caught at an early stage.”
“We have a great team of friendly nurses and doctors to help people get sorted out if they have a positive test.”
Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK, and detecting it at the earliest stage makes you up to nine times more likely to be successfully treated.
The test is simple to complete and can be done in the privacy of your own bathroom in less than a minute. Anyone aged 60 to 74, who lives in England and is registered with a GP practice will be sent a test in the post automatically, every two years. NHS England is also extending this to include all 50 to 59 year-olds in a phased way by 2025.
Anyone who is sent a bowel cancer screening test to remember to complete it. Put it by the loo. Don’t put it off. Your next poo could save your life. Visit nhs.uk/conditions/bowel-screening for more information.