Bowel Cancer charity cycle ride to raise awareness

As part of Bowel Cancer awareness month a team of doctors and nurses from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and James Paget Hospital will be cycling from Great Yarmouth to Norwich to raise awareness of bowel cancer.

The team will be departing from the James Paget Hospital at 10.00am on Saturday 25th April and due to arrive at The Forum in Norwich at 1.45pm. Dressed in bright orange t-shirts, their route will take them through Ashby, Saint Olaves, Heckingham, Loddon, Rockland St Mary, Kirby Bedon on route to Norwich. The team are also being joined by local GP's and members of the public.

There will also be a Bowel Cancer Specialist Nurse on hand at The Forum in Norwich from 9.00am to 3.00pm to answer any questions and concerns people may have regarding bowel cancer.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) was one of the very first sites in the country to introduce 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 working in partnership with the James Paget University Hospitals (JPUH), the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in King's Lynn and with this screening programme approximately one death from bowel cancer per week will be prevented across the Norfolk and Waveney area.

All men and women between the age of 60 – 70 years and registered with a GP in the NHS Norfolk or NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney area are being invited to take part in the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme. By June 2009, this screening programme will be extended to cover all of Norfolk up to the age of 75 years.

• 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)

Bowel cancer can be detected early by testing the stool for minute traces of blood. Studies have shown that this allows detection of early cancers and so higher cure rates. The NHS introduced a National Screening programme for Bowel Cancer in 2006.

The benefits of screening are proportional to uptake. Across Norfolk, uptake with the programme is 60%, but this figure is lower in urban areas and higher in rural communities. In Norfolk, the lowest uptake rates are in some areas of Great Yarmouth, Norwich and Kings Lynn. We hope that this cycle ride will raise awareness of this programme in these urban areas to improve uptake.

People with a positive stool test are then invited to have an examination of their bowel involving a colonoscopy. To date in Norfolk 1,682 colonoscopies have been performed at the NNUH of which 12% of people were have been found to have cancer. 48% had pre cancerous polyps which were subsequently removed and 35% have been normal. The cancers detected have been at an earlier stage than we usually find them which has lead to higher cure rates.

Dr Richard Tighe, NNUH consultant gastroenterologist, said, “This programme is proving very effective in picking up early cancers in people with no symptoms, with the result that we are curing more people of bowel cancer. The uptake in rural Norfolk has been very good, but is lower in some urban centres – reducing the effectiveness of the programme. We know that 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 Bernard Brett, JPUH consultant gastroenterologist, said: “This service is bringing real benefits to the population of Norfolk as a whole and our Great Yarmouth and Waveney area. It is saving lives from bowel cancer. In many individuals we are also able to prevent cancers of the bowel from developing as we can remove precancerous growths. Please take up the opportunity when invited to take part in the screening programme; this is something that could make a huge difference not just to you, but also to your family and friends. You can only benefit if you take part when invited to do so.”

Everyone over 60 are being encouraged to take the test which is simple to do and can be done in the privacy of their home. It involves 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.

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 JPUH, NNUH or the QEH. People who then need a colonoscopy will have it undertaken at NNUH by one of the consultant endoscopists involved in the screening programme. Several members of the team work at all three hospitals facilitating high quality care for patients.

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 Norfolk has been 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 be universally available across England by December 2009.

Photo opportunity

James Paget Hospital at 10.00am as the team depart for Norwich

The Forum Norwich at approx 1.45pm as the team arrive in Norwich

Thursday 23rd of April 2009 01:00:34 PM