Men and women in west Essex are benefiting from bowel cancer screening

INVITATIONS to participate in the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme have been sent out to men and women in west Essex since 2008. NHS West Essex has introduced the new national screening programme to help detect bowel cancer at an early stage.

INVITATIONS to participate in the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme have been sent out to men and women in west Essex since 2008.

NHS West Essex has introduced the new national screening programme to help detect bowel cancer at an early stage when treatment is more likely to be effective.

Screening can also detect polyps, which are not cancerous but may develop into cancers over time.

Deputy director of public health with NHS West Essex, Dr Pam Hall, said: "Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in the UK. Early detection is crucial to lowering the number of deaths from bowel cancer.


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"Regular screening could reduce deaths from bowel cancer by 16 per cent in those taking up the offer."

More than 29,000 men and women aged between 60 and 69 and registered with a GP in west Essex are being invited to take part in the bowel cancer screening programme every two years.

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They are sent a simple test kit to complete in the privacy of their home. This 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.

Men and women aged 70 to 74 will be offered screening starting from the end of 2010.

Currently, those aged 70 and over can request a kit by calling a freephone helpline on 0800 707 60 60.

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.

Dr Pam Hall said: "I am delighted we can now offer men and women in west Essex the opportunity to be screened for bowel cancer. Many people are embarrassed to talk about their bowels.

"This unique 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."

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 the freephone helpline on 0800 707 60 60.

On April 17 there will be an event to promote Bowel Cancer Screening at the Harvey Centre (by Morrelli's coffee shop) in Harlow between 10am-3pm.

At this event, the public will be given information on bowel awareness, screening processes and healthy living by Addenbrookes Bowel Cancer Screening Service and the West Essex Macmillan Cancer Information Service

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