A Consultant endoscopist at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Trust is encouraging people who have been sent an NHS bowel cancer screening kit to complete the test.
Frank Hinson says the test takes less than a minute and can be lifesaving.
Frank is throwing his full support behind a new NHS England campaign called Help Us, Help You, encouraging people who have been sent an NHS bowel cancer screening kit to complete the test.
He said: “In the Cumbria and Morecambe Bay Screening Centre, we have a better than average take-up of the screening kits. Our latest figures show that more than 70 per cent of people returned the completed test kits last year in our area.
“However, we would still like to do better, and it is a pity that nearly three in every 10 people are missing out.
“People worry that tests like this may bring them bad news. However, most people (98.7 per cent) will get a normal result. Even when the test is positive, less than one in 11 people will have cancer.
“It is much more common to find polyps in the bowel. These can be easily removed during a bowel examination. As most bowel cancers start off in polyps, this actually prevents many cancers from even starting.
“If it is cancer it may be so small that no major surgery will be required. Even if surgery is required, the chances of a permanent cure are much better when cancer is caught at an early stage.”
And Frank stressed how staff at NCIC are here to help – even if the test is positive.
He said: “We have a great team of friendly nurses and doctors to help people get sorted out if they have a positive test.
“A few years ago, a national newspaper asked its readers what was the best thing that they got for free after turning 60. A Cumbrian lady who had had an early bowel cancer detected here on the screening programme wrote and told them that the best thing was bowel cancer screening.”
Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK, and detecting it at the earliest stage makes you up to nine times more likely to be successfully treated.
Just a tiny sample detects signs of cancer before you notice anything wrong. The test is simple to complete and can be done in the privacy of your own bathroom. Anyone aged 60 to 74, who lives in England and is registered with a GP practice will be sent a test in the post automatically, every two years. NHS England is also extending this to include all 50 to 59 year-olds by 2025.
The kit is simple to complete and can be done in the privacy of your own bathroom using the step-by-step instructions on the box. You only need to collect one tiny sample of poo using the plastic stick provided, pop it in the sample bottle and post it for free. Your sample is tested for tiny traces of blood, which may not be visible to the naked eye.
Blood in your poo is one of the signs of bowel cancer, but does not always mean cancer.
If something is found, you will be invited to have further tests, usually at a hospital.
Data show that NHS England is diagnosing a higher proportion of cancers at an early stage now than before the pandemic.
So, the NHS is asking anyone who is sent a bowel cancer screening test to remember to complete it. Put it by the loo. Don’t put it off. Your next poo could save your life. Visit nhs.uk/conditions/bowel-screening for more information.