In Northern Ireland over 1,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer and over 400 people die from the disease each year, but if detected at a very early stage treatment for the cancer is 90% successful. Therefore the Public Health Agency (PHA) urged people to take the bowel cancer screening test by hosting a stand at the Balmoral Show, which ran 16-18 May 2012). The purpose of the stand was to increase awareness of the screening programme and to encourage uptake of those eligible.
All men and women aged 60-71 years are offered screening but only one in every two people invited take part, so the Balmoral Show was a great opportunity to encourage eligible people to participate in the screening programme.
With an average of 70,000 people attending the show each year, it offers an excellent platform to provide information on the screening programme.
Dr Tracy Owen, Consultant in Public Health Medicine, PHA, said: “We would like to emphasise the importance of people taking the bowel cancer screening test when they receive it in the post. The stand at the Balmoral show allowed staff from the PHA to engage with a large and diverse audience, making them aware of the importance of the programme and that taking the test could save your life.”
Those eligible for screening will receive a test kit in the post at the home address provided by their GP. It is therefore important that your GP has your most up-to-date address and correct date of birth or you may miss the chance to take part in the programme.
Health Minister Edwin Poots, on visiting the Bowel Cancer Stand at the Balmoral Show said:"Bowel cancer is the second most common cancer in Northern Ireland, with 1,000 people diagnosed with bowel cancer each year and over 400 deaths annually. The earlier the cancer is detected the chances of successful treatment improve significantly. When detected at a very early stage treatment for bowel cancer can be 90% successful. This is the third cancer screening programme to be introduced in Northern Ireland following breast and cervical screening, and it is the first programme to include men."
The Health Minister added: "The roll out of bowel cancer screening started in Northern Ireland in April 2010 and from April this year the programme was extended to include all men and women aged between 60 and 71. I also plan to extend it further as outlined in the current Programme for Government and offer bowel cancer screening to all men and women aged between 60 and 74 from 2014. I would encourage all men and women when invited to take this life saving test."
For further information on the screening programme and what it involves, visit www.cancerscreening.hscni.net
Contact the PHA press office on 028 9055 3663.