West Norfolk joins NNUH cancer screening programme

Norfolk will from next week become the first county in the East of England to be covered by a ground-breaking cancer screening programme for older people that saves lives from bowel cancer.

From July 2 men and women aged between 60 and 69 and registered with a GP in the West Norfolk area will begin to be invited to take part in the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme. The rest of Norfolk, plus Waveney, is already covered by the screening programme.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) pioneered the new national screening programme to help detect bowel cancer at an early stage when treatment is more likely to be effective. The NNUH team is now working in partnership with the Queen Elizabeth Hospital King's Lynn (QEH) to extend the new cancer screening service to West Norfolk. The screening programme is expected to save approximately one life per week from across the Norfolk and Waveney area.

* 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
(Source: CRUK)

Dr Richard Tighe, NNUH consultant gastroenterologist, said, “This new service is a lifesaver and we are delighted that men and women in King's Lynn and West 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.”

Dr Andrew Douds, QEH consultant gastroenterologist, said: “This important new service is going to bring real benefits to the local population. It will save lives from bowel cancer as well as prevent the need for surgery in some individuals. This will be of benefit not only to the men and women identified through the screening programme but also to their relatives, and friends. Please take up this opportunity, this is something that could make a huge difference to you, your family and friends.'

Dr John Battersby, Director of Public Health for Norfolk PCT, said: “This is a really positive public health 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 would urge everyone to take up this opportunity.”

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 led by Dr Richard Tighe. Once a test result indicates there might be a problem the specialist nurses will see people at a clinic at the Queen Elizabeth. People who then need a colonoscopy will have it undertaken at NNUH by Dr Douds or other consultant endoscopists involved in the screening programme.

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.

Monday 25th of June 2007 05:00:29 AM