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Bowel Cancer Screening

Be Clear on Cancer’ Campaign

The first ever Government cancer awareness campaign to highlight the early signs and symptoms of bowel cancer has just been launched. (31 January 2011).

The ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign will initially be piloted in two regions, here in the East of England and South West and if successful will be rolled out across the country. Improving cancer outcomes is a Government priority and the earlier cancer is diagnosed, the better the outlook.

Health Minister Paul Burstow said: 

"No one likes talking about their poo – it’s embarrassing. But if we see something different and tell our GP it could save our life.

“Early diagnosis makes a huge difference to cancer survival rates and bowel cancer is one of the biggest killers.  That’s why the ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign uses simple messages to make people aware of the early signs of bowel cancer and to give them the confidence to talk to their GP about them."

Dr Bernard Brett, Medical Director at James Paget University Hospital said:

“The ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign is very important as it should enable us to prevent unnecessary deaths from bowel cancer. You can help us by acting early if you have any symptoms of bowel cancer and by taking part in the bowel cancer screening programme if invited to do so.

There has been an increase in the number of referrals for bowel cancer at the Trust over the last year, however, we know that two wards within Great Yarmouth are among the lowest locally in terms of uptake of bowel cancer screening.

Early diagnosis is critical in order to save lives and more than 90 per cent of people diagnosed at the early stage survive for at least five years compared with only 6.6 per cent of those diagnosed at the late stage.

This campaign will hopefully encourage patients to come forward at an early stage and ultimately save lives.”

Lifesaving bowel cancer screening across Yarmouth and Waveney

People living in Great Yarmouth and Waveney are taking part in a ground-breaking cancer screening programme for older people that can save lives from bowel cancer.

Men and women aged between 60 and 69 and registered with a GP in the Great Yarmouth and Waveney area are invited to take part in the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme. Eligible men and women from the local population of 227,234 will be invited to take part in the programme over the next two years.

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 our Trust in extending the new cancer screening service to the Great Yarmouth and Waveney areas.

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: CRUK)

This important new service is going to bring real benefits to the local population. It will save lives from bowel cancer as well as prevent the need for surgery in some individuals. This will be of benefit not only to the men and women identified through the screening programme but also to their relatives, and friends.

This programme involves being sent a simple test kit to complete in the privacy of your own home. It means collecting a small sample from three separate bowel motions and, using a specially designed prepaid envelope, returning the kit to the laboratory for analysis. Those aged 70 and over are being encouraged to call a freephone helpline on 0800 707 60 60 and request a kit. 

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 Bernard Brett presented on this at the Trust Annual General Meeting in September 2008 - please use this link to access the presentation



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