Men and women in Sussex are being invited to take part in a national bowel screening programme to combat bowel cancer.
Those aged between 60 and 69 and registered with a GP in the area will be sent a letter of invitation as they reach the ages targeted by the campaign.
This will include a leaflet called ‘Bowel Cancer Screening - The Facts’, to help them make an informed choice about whether or not to take up the opportunity of screening.
They will then be sent a free test kit, which is simple to use in the privacy of their own home.
This includes step-by-step instructions for completing the test and further support is available from the freephone helpline on 0800 707 60 60.
A specially-designed, pre-paid envelope is provided to return the kit for analysis at the screening programme’s laboratory in Guildford.
The test does not diagnose bowel cancer but shows whether further investigations are needed.
As not everyone in the target age range will receive a test kit immediately, it is important to be clear that invitations will go out over the next two years in a rolling programme based on age and starting with those aged 69 years.
People aged 70 and above can request a home testing kit by phoning a freephone helpline on 0800 7076060, with plans in place to extend the overall programme to people aged 70-75 years old in the next two years.
The Clinical Director for the Sussex Bowel Cancer Screening Centre is Dr Stuart Cairns Consultant Gastroenterologist at the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust said:
“This new service is a lifesaver and I am delighted that we are going to be offering men and women across Sussex the opportunity to be screened for bowel cancer.
Many people are embarrassed to talk about their bowels and this unique screening programme means that they can now access screening without leaving home.”
Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in the UK and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the UK.
16,000 people die of it every year and around 80% of bowel cancers appear in people who are over 60.
Although bowel cancer affects more than one in 20 people, figures show that 90 per cent can be successfully treated and survive if it is caught early.
You can reduce your risk of bowel cancer by eating a healthy diet, (that is high in fibre and fruit and vegetables and low in red meat and saturated fat) and by taking regular exercise, not smoking, and reducing alcohol intake.
If you experience any symptoms such as change in bowel habit, blood in faeces or weight loss speak to your GP, even if you have had a negative screening result.
Further information can be found at http://www.cancerscreening.nhs.uk/bowel/