Every 15 minutes, someone in England and Wales is diagnosed with bowel cancer. It is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in the UK.
Bowel cancer screening uses a small sample of your stools collected at home to detect blood from polyps that may develop into cancer over time. Removing these polyps can reduce your chances of developing bowel cancer in the future.
Benefits of bowel cancer screening
• Bowel cancer screening has been shown to reduce the risk of dying from bowel cancer.
• Bowel cancer is highly treatable when detected in the early stages which is why is it’s so important that you are diagnosed as soon as possible.
• Although some people may find the screening test unpleasant, it can be done it the privacy of your own home.
Risks of bowel cancer screening
• The screening test is not 100% reliable.
• There is a chance that a cancer may be missed if it is not bleeding when the screening test is taken.
• Not all bowel cancers detected by the screening can be successfully treated.
• Around 4 in 100 people receive an unclear result which means the test will needed to be repeated. This is because of a slight suggestion of blood in the sample which could be caused by conditions other than cancer such as haemorrhoids (piles).
You will be contacted about your bowel screening using the information held about you at your GP surgery so it is very important that they always have your current address.
The screening kit (know as an FOB kit) is automatically sent to men and women between 60 and 74 every two years. If you are over 74 you can request screening kit by calling 0800 707 60 60, You can also call this number if you have lost the kit you have been sent.
The home testing kits are sent out by a regional hub. The hub for the Portsmouth area is the University of Guildford. Each area also has a screening centre which provides endoscopy services and specialist screening nurse clinics if you receive an abnormal result. The Screening Centre for Portsmouth is Queen Alexandra Hospital.
If you are concerned by symptoms of bowel cancer or by your family history do not wait for your testing kit. Speak to your GP.
You should book an appointment with your GP if for the last 3 weeks if you have:
• Had blood in your stools?
• Had looser stools than normal?
• Lost a lot of weight without trying?
• Experienced abdominal pain?
• Experienced a change to your normal bowel habits?
• Been more tired or out of breath than usual?
Visit the cancer screening website www.cancerscreening.nhs.uk for more information about all the cancer screening tests offered to men and women.
Call NHS Direct 0845 46 47 or visit NHS Choices www.nhs.uk for more information about Bowel Cancer and other conditionns, symptoms and treatments.
Visit the Macmillian Cancer Support website at www.macmillan.org.uk or call 0808 808 0000. They have a wide range of information and support for cancer patients and their families and friends.