Accepting bowel cancer screening invitation could save your life
Here is the weekly Health Matters column, written by members of the Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group...
Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK with almost 42,900 people diagnosed every year, which is nearly 12 a day. More than nine out of ten new cases are diagnosed in people over the age of 50, and nearly six out of ten cases are diagnosed in people aged 70 or over.
As more people live longer in Lincolnshire, during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month the NHS is urging older patients not to put their health at risk by opting out of bowel cancer screening.
Someone dies from bowel cancer in the UK every 30 minutes, which seems unthinkable, especially when it is treatable when diagnosed at an early stage. So we urge patients, especially those over 60 who are most at risk, to accept their invitation to the screening process when it arrives. It could save their lives.
If treated early there is a very good chance of recovery. The only problem is that only nine percent of patients are diagnosed at the early stage. That’s why accepting the invitation to take part in screening is so vital.
Bowel cancer occurs when the cells in the bowel multiply and attack the surrounding tissue – which can then spread to the other parts of the body. It is also called colon cancer.
The symptoms of bowel cancer can be:
• Bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo;
• A change in bowel habit for three weeks or more, especially to looser or runny poo;
• Unexplained weight loss;
• Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason;
• A pain or lump in your tummy.
Patients might experience one, some, all of the above or no symptoms at all. Most symptoms will not be bowel cancer. However, people who are worried about any symptoms that might be caused by bowel cancer, should make an appointment with their GP.
Patients aged 60 to 74 will automatically be sent an invitation and a screening kit to do the test at home. The testing kit is a very simple way to collect small samples on a special card in your own home. There are clear instructions sent with the kit. You then send the card in a hygienically sealed, prepaid envelope to a laboratory for testing. You will be sent the results of your test by post within two weeks.
Remember, you’ll not be wasting anyone’s time by getting checked. If it isn’t serious, you’ll put your mind at rest. If it’s bowel cancer, early detection can make all the difference. Over 90% who are diagnosed at the earliest stage are successfully treated. So a trip to your doctor could save your life.