Over 70s bowel cancer screening launched
Norfolk has been chosen as one of the first parts of the country to offer people aged between 70 and 75 a screening programme that will help reduce deaths from bowel cancer.
From this month, men and women aged 70-74 and registered with a GP in central Norfolk, (this covers the districts of Norwich, Broadland, South Norfolk, North Norfolk and much of Breckland) will begin to be invited to take part in the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme. Over 28,000 eligible men and women will invited to take part in the programme over the next two years. From May 2009, screening for 70-74 year olds will roll out to the Great Yarmouth and Waveney area and to West Norfolk in July 2009.
The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) is one the first sites nationally piloting a new screening programme for the over 70s to help detect bowel cancer at an early stage when treatment is more likely to be effective. NNUH was also a successful national early implementer site for the introduction of a screening programme for people aged between 60 and 69 back in 2006. The other early implementer sites in England for people aged 70-74 are; Hull, Torbay, Wolverhampton and St Mark's, London.
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
(Source: Cancer Research UK)
Dr Richard Tighe, NNUH consultant gastroenterologist, said, The launch of bowel cancer screening in Norfolk in 2006 was a great success and we have been asked to be an early implementer of extended screening for the over 70s. Many people are often embarrassed to talk about their bowels but 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.“
Hilary Macdonald, Chief Executive of Age Concern Norfolk, said: “This is an excellent example of preventative healthcare and very good news for older people across
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.
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.
Anyone aged 75 or over can also take part in the bowel cancer screening programme and can call 0800 707 60 60 to request a screening kit.
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.
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 75, and registered with a GP, will be automatically invited and will receive an FOB test. Those aged 75 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