THE number of people in South Derbyshire taking up screenings for bowel cancer is higher than the national average, but is still lagging behind other forms of the disease, according to a leading charity.
Beating Bowel Cancer, which provides support to people who are diagnosed, says that the uptake in screenings stands at 61 per cent in South Derbyshire, while the national average is 58 per cent. However, other cancer screening programmes such as those for breast and cervical cancer are still far greater, with the figures reported being 72 per cent and 79 per cent respectively.
Despite this, bowel cancer still remains the UK’s second biggest cancer killer with almost 41,000 people diagnosed each year. Currently anyone aged between 60 and 74 is sent a testing kit, known as a faecal occult blood test, every two years so that regular checks can be carried out.
By returning it, possible symptoms can be identified by doctors and a screening conducted to prevent the cancer from developing further.
The purpose of a screening is to help detect polyps, which are non-cancerous growths which may develop into cancer over a period of time. Polyps can often bleed and the test identifies tiny amounts of blood in faecal matter that normally can’t be seen.
More than 90 per cent of cases which have been detected early have gone on to be treated successfully.
Janet Bates, 61, from Swadlincote was diagnosed via the screening programme in 2012. She had never experienced any of the symptoms associated, but received a kit and sent it off. It was only after doing so that she found out she had the condition. She is now encouraging everyone throughout Burton and South Derbyshire that receives a kit to complete it and send it off too.
Janet said: “I hadn’t had a single symptom, so I had no idea that anything was wrong. When the kit came through the door, I thought I might as well complete it.”
“My results showed something might be wrong, so following another test and further investigations in hospital, I was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Thankfully it was caught very early, so I had surgery and didn’t need chemotherapy. Even if you feel fit and healthy, I’d urge everyone who receives a kit to complete it.”
Mark Flannagan, chief executive of Beating Bowel Cancer added: “The majority of people are still being diagnosed with bowel cancer too late when it’s more advanced and difficult to treat.
We know that bowel cancer screening saves lives by identifying the disease in the early stages.
“We want to see uptake increase to be at least equal to cervical cancer screening; we have the potential to save thousands of lives.
“Our message would be that people shouldn’t put the test to one side when it comes through the door, thinking they’ll do it later. We urge all those who are invited to take part in screening to return their kits as any delay could be life-threatening.”