The Public Health Agency (PHA) and the Northern and Western Health and Social Care Trust are encouraging all men and women aged 60-69 to avail of the new Bowel Cancer Screening programme. Over 120 people have already participated in the screening programme since it was launched on 22 April.
The Bowel Cancer Screening programme is quite different from other screening programmes, as it is carried out by participants themselves, in the comfort and privacy of their own home. If you are an eligible member of the public (between 60-69 yrs) your test kit will be sent out, over the next two years, to the address which your GP has for you. It is therefore important that your GP has your most up to date address or you may miss the chance to take part in the programme.
Dr Tracy Owen, Consultant in Public Health Medicine with the PHA said,
“The home test kit can be completed easily in the privacy of a person’s own home and returned by post to the new laboratory for analysis. It is hoped that as the test is carried out at home, more people will respond, particularly men, who often find health issues difficult to talk about.
It is very important that everyone, who is eligible, uses this opportunity to take part in the screening, as bowel cancer is the second most common cancer in Northern Ireland, seeing 1,000 new cases diagnosed each year. When detected at a very early stage, treatment for bowel cancer can be 90% successful. The kit is used to detect traces of blood in the bowel motion, which indicates that further tests need to be carried out. Most people who are tested will have no blood in their bowel motions and will be invited to repeat the screening test again in 2 years time. Only 10 people in every 500 who complete the test kit will have traces of blood in their bowel motion and only 1 of these will have bower cancer.”
Dr William Dickey, Consultant Gastroenterologist and lead clinician in Endoscopy, Western Health and Social Care Trust said “The screening programme offers an opportunity to identify this common cancer at a stage when it can be treated successfully.”
As bowel cancer can develop at anytime, it is vital that everyone is aware of the signs and symptoms associated with the disease, which are;
• Unexpected, painless, persistent bleeding from your back passage, or blood in your stools
• A change in bowel habits (diarrhoea or constipation) lasting six weeks or more
• Unexplained weight loss
• Pain or swelling in your abdomen
• Iron deficiency anaemia
If you present any of these symptoms please do not wait to receive the screening kit and contact your GP.
For further information on the screening programme and what it involves, visit www.cancerscreening.hscni.net or if you have any questions on completing the test contact the FREEPHONE HELPLINE 0800 015 2514
For further information: Contact the PHA on 028 9031 1611/ 028 9031 1514
Notes to the editor
NOTES TO EDITOR:
Pictured: Bowel Screener analysing a bowel cancer screening kit, sent in by a participant of the programme.
Bowel Screeners at the new Bowel Cancer Screening Laboratory showing the home screening kits participants will receive in the post.