Screening kit stopped bowel cancer

Screening kit stopped bowel cancer
Photo of Bob web

Waltham Forest resident Bob Wells said using a bowel cancer screening kit saved him from developing cancer.

Mr Wells, 66, from Chingford, used the test sent to his home as part of the NHS bowel screening programme, which is for everyone aged between 60 to 74.

The test results showed that Mr Wells had six polyps on his bowel and he was told that cancer would develop within a few years, unless he had colonoscopy procedures to remove the polyps.

Mr Wells said:  “My nephew, who is now in his early fifties, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in his forties.

“He has a wife and young children, so the impact on him was traumatic. He ignored the symptoms and as a result, his cancer was detected late.

“He had most of his rectum removed and now has a stoma bag which he will wear for the rest of his life, but fortunately he is in remission.”

“I found the home screening test easy to use. The instructions are straightforward. It’s just a matter of giving it some thought and perseverance.

“I had three colonoscopies in total and they didn’t impact on my work or family life. The colonoscopies were done locally at Whipps Cross Hospital. They each took about two or three hours.

“I do feel very lucky that I did the test, early diagnosis is so important.”

Mr Wells is now giving talks with Bowel Cancer UK and telling his story about the importance of taking the NHS Bowel Cancer Screen Programme test.

Low test uptake

In Waltham Forest, everyone aged 60 to 74 is sent a bowel cancer screening kit in the post every two years but just 48% of people use it – much lower than the national average of 57%.

Eight out 10 people who are diagnosed with bowel cancer are over 60, and the earlier it is detected, the more likely it can be treated.

Dr Munesh Mistry a local GP and clinical lead for cancer at Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning Group says everyone who gets the bowel cancer screening kit should use it, so any problems can be identified as early as possible.

Dr Mistry said: “We can diagnose bowel cancer at an early stage, before there are any symptoms.

“Unfortunately, because not enough screening kits are being used, people in Waltham Forest are more likely to die from bowel cancer than in many other parts of the country.

“Please look out for the screening kit, which is sent in the post every two years to people aged 60 – 74, and make sure your relatives are aware that it’s available – it can save lives.

“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. Book an appointment to see your GP, if you have any concerns.”

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:

    • 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.

Book an appointment to see your local GP if you have any concerns.

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