WEEKEND WEB: Take the test when offered
DOCTOR CALLING: A weekly column by the chairman of South Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group Kevin Hill
Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK, after breast, prostate and lung cancers, with over 41,200 people diagnosed with bowel cancer every year.
As more people live longer in Lincolnshire, local NHS leaders are urging older patients not to put their health at risk by opting out of bowel cancer screening during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month.
Someone dies from bowel cancer in the UK every 30 minutes. It seems unthinkable doesn’t it, especially when bowel cancer 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 per cent 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. 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 for 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. Just remember, you’ll not be wasting anyone’s time by getting checked out. 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 per cent who are diagnosed at the earliest stage are successfully treated. So a trip to your doctor could save your life.