Drive to increase the early diagnosis of bowel cancer in Waltham Forest

Drive to increase the early diagnosis of bowel cancer in Waltham Forest

GPs in Waltham Forest are calling on residents across the borough to help them diagnose bowel cancer earlier to save lives.

The latest figures available show that the number of residents who died from bowel cancer in the borough doubled over a four-year period.

Knowing that the sooner the disease is caught, the greater the chance of survival, local doctors want to increase the number of people diagnosed in the early stages of the disease.

In the coming year, NHS Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning Group is looking to increase the number of people diagnosed with cancer at stage one or two. Receiving a diagnosis at an early stage can significantly increase the chance of successful treatment. 

Numbers show that it is people aged between 60 and 80 living in the borough that are most likely to be affected by bowel cancer, with women slightly more likely to be affected than men.

Screening kit

Every two years people aged 60 to 74 are automatically sent a bowel screening kit in the post. The test can detect bowel cancer before there are any symptoms.

Only around half of the people sent them in Waltham Forest (49 per cent) ever use them, meaning they are missing out on potentially life-saving treatment.

Dr Mayank Shah, a Walthamstow GP and Clinical Director for Cancer at NHS Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning Group (WF CCG), said: “It’s vital that people take the bowel screening test when they receive it, even if they have taken it before.

 

“As GPs we want to help our patients live well into their later years but we need their help to help us to do that.

“The test, which you can do in the privacy of your own home, can detect bowel cancer before you start showing symptoms of the disease and so could help save your life.

“If you are noticing anything unusual with your bowel habits that’s lasting longer than three weeks, you must book an appointment to see your GP.

“This is particularly so if there is blood in your stools, or you have unexplained weight loss, or a pain or lump in your stomach.”

“If you want to request a screening kit and you are over 75, or if you are 60-74 and haven’t received yours by post, you can order one by calling the freephone helpline on 0800 707 60 60 or by contacting your GP, who can order it for you.” 

Bowel cancer facts

  • April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month.
  • The NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme offers screening every two years to all men and women aged 60 to 74.
  • People in this age range are automatically sent a screening kit, so they can do the test at home.
  • Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK behind breast, lung and prostate cancer.
  • More than 41,000 men and women are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in the UK.
  • The test can detect bowel cancer before there are symptoms but signs of bowel cancer can include:

Symptoms

  • bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo
  • a change in your bowel habit lasting three weeks or more
  • unexplained weight loss
  • extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
  • a pain or lump in your tummy.