Lifesaving bowel cancer screening for Norfolk
Norfolk has been chosen as one of the first parts of the country to offer older people a screening programme that will reduce the mortality rate from bowel cancer by 16 per cent in those invited for screening*.
From next week men and women aged between 60 and 69 and registered with a GP in central Norfolk (this covers the Norwich, Broadland, Southern Norfolk and North Norfolk PCT areas) will begin to be invited to take part in the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme. Over 65,000 eligible men and women will invited to take part in the programme over the next two years.
The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) is one the first sites introducing the new national screening programme to help detect bowel cancer at an early stage when treatment is more likely to be effective.
And BBC Radio Norfolk’s Roy Waller, who has himself had bowel cancer, is adding his backing to the new Norfolk screening programme. Roy said: It’s really important to take part in this screening programme when you get your letter. Set aside any embarrassment and bear in mind that cancer is not necessarily a death sentence.”
Bowel cancer facts
Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in the UK
Around 80 per cent of bowel cancers arise in people who are over 60
There are around 35,000 cases of bowel cancer identified in the UK each year
There are approximately 16,000 deaths a year from bowel cancer
Although bowel cancer affects more than one in 20 people in their lifetime, 90 per cent survive if it is caught early
*Screening for colorectal cancer using the faecal occult blood test: an update. (2006) Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.
Dr Richard Tighe, NNUH consultant gastroenterologist and regional endoscopy lead, said, This new service is a lifesaver and we are delighted that men and women in central Norfolk will be among the first in the country to have the opportunity to be screened for bowel cancer. Many people are often embarrassed to talk about their bowels.
This programme means that they can now access screening in the privacy of their own homes. The test kit is simple to complete and I strongly encourage everyone offered the opportunity to participate. We believe that this screening programme will help prevent sixteen per cent of deaths from bowel cancer. “
Brenda Arthur, Chief Executive of Age Concern Norwich, said: This is a really positive initiative. A simple test carried out in the privacy of someone’s home can save lives and make a difference to individuals and their families. We at Age Concern Norwich would urge everyone to take up this opportunity. It is good to know that once again the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Trust is at the forefront of new and groundbreaking work to fight cancer.“
People will be sent a simple test kit to complete in the privacy of their home. This will involve collecting a small sample from three separate bowel motions and, using a specially designed prepaid envelope, returning the kit to the laboratory for analysis.
Those aged 70 and over are being encouraged to call a freephone helpline on 0800 707 60 60 and request a kit.
The laboratory analyses the samples, looking for tiny traces of blood that may be invisible to the naked eye. The test does not diagnose bowel cancer but gives an indication as to whether further investigations are required.
The bowel cancer screening team at NNUH is made up of Dr Richard Tighe, Prof Duncan Bell, specialist nurses Una Meagher, Ann Smith, project manager Annie Cook and an admin assistant.
(Picture caption: l to r standing – Prof Duncan Bell consultant gastroenterologist, Sister Jane Cook nurse manager, Dr Richard Tighe, consultant gastroenterologist and programme lead, l to r sitting – Una Meagher, specialist screening nurse practitioner, Annie Cook, project manager, Ann Smith, specialist screening nurse practitioner.
A leaflet entitled ‘Bowel Cancer Screening – The Facts’ will be sent to everyone with their invitation to help them make an informed choice about whether or not to take up the opportunity of screening. This leaflet explains bowel cancer screening and the benefits and limitations of the test. Step-by-step instructions for completing the test at home are being sent out with the test kit and further support is available from a freephone helpline on 0800 707 60 60.
The introduction of screening in central Norfolk is part of the roll out of the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme nationally. The first stage of the programme began in 2006 and it is anticipated that it will take about three years for screening to be phased in across England.
Notes to editors
Further information on the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme is available from www.cancerscreening.nhs.uk
The NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme is being introduced following the success of pilot studies in Coventry and North Warwickshire and Scotland.
The test used to screen for bowel cancer is called a Faecal Occult Blood (FOB) test and analyses samples of bowel motions for tiny traces of blood that may be invisible to the naked eye. A kit is used to collect small samples of bowel motion on a special card. The samples are then sent to the laboratory for analysis. The test does not diagnose bowel cancer but gives an indication as to whether further investigations are required. An abnormal FOB test result can occur for a variety of reasons including piles (haemorrhoids) or stomach ulcers.
All men and women aged over 60 are eligible for screening every two years. Those aged 60 to 69, and registered with a GP, will be automatically invited and will receive an FOB test. Those aged 70 and over are strongly encouraged to request a test kit by calling the freephone helpline on 0800 707 60 60.
The leaflet, ‘Bowel Cancer Screening – The Facts’ was developed by Cancer Research UK