The Bowel Cancer Screening Coordinator for the Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Trust in Crewe, Cheshire has sent us at Vision Support some information regarding bowel cancer test kits for the over 60’s.
Please read below for the full piece. For further information freephone 0800 707 60 60 or visit http://www.cancerscreening.nhs.uk
The Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically affected the way we live in so many ways. We have all had to change our routines and adapt to new ways of going about our daily lives. Here at the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme one thing that hasn’t changed is that we want you and your family to continue to use NHS cancer screening services. Screening is vital for the prevention and early detection of many forms of cancer.
According to Public Health England bowel cancer is the 4th biggest cause of cancer deaths in the UK and many of these deaths may have been prevented if the cancer was detected at an early stage. Bowel cancer screening is offered to all people registered with a GP who are aged 60-74 years.
A central distribution hub will send you a kit after your 60th birthday, to be completed in the comfort and privacy of your own home. The test only takes a couple of minutes to complete – all we need from you is a small sample of your poo – this will be checked for minute traces of blood which can indicate the presence of a potential problem long before any physical symptoms become noticeable.
If you have a normal result you will be informed and a new kit will be sent to you 2 years later up until you reach age 74. Of course, should you experience any worrying changes in your bowel habits between tests or before/after you join the screening programme you should see your GP. Symptoms to be aware of include blood in your poo, changes in bowel habit for more than 3 weeks, pain or a lump in your tummy or weight loss without trying.
If you have an abnormal test result one of our specialist screening practitioners will meet with you to discuss what happens next – it is likely that you will be invited to attend hospital for a colonoscopy. If you need to bring an assistant or guide dog they can be accommodated.
Often when blood is found in your sample it’s an indication of the presence of a polyp in your bowel. A Colonoscopy enables a doctor to look inside your bowel to find out why the blood was present. The procedure is carried out at an outpatient clinic, under sedation if you choose it, and the findings will be given to you straight away. You’ll usually be in hospital for a few hours and will go home the same day. In most cases if a polyp is found we can remove it there and then at the appointment. Any polyps or tissue removed is sent to be analysed. Most polyps turn out to be non-cancerous and are removed at the time of the procedure to reduce the potential of them becoming cancerous over time. There is always the risk that we detect a cancer, if this happens your pathway will be discussed with you following the procedure. Cancers that are detected early can usually be treated with more conservative therapies than those detected at a more advanced stage.
Our friendly specialist team will be with you every step of the way.
You may be below the current screening age but how about your family and friends? Bowel cancer is something we need to discuss with our loved ones – it can be a difficult subject to approach but encouraging them to take the test rather than put if off could save their life. You can find out more about screening by following the link: gov.uk/guidance/bowel-cancer-screening-programme-overview