Cancer UK has produced a new bowel cancer guide for NHS professionals in response to the efforts of the late Dame Deborah James to raise public awareness.
To help the NHS prepare for a possible increase in patient presentations, Cancer Research UK (CRUK) has produced a new Bowel Cancer Resource Guide that signposts the free resources and clinical guidance available to support health professionals with the recognition, referral, and management of suspected bowel cancer, and to answer screening-related questions.
The NHS is also expecting more queries from patients about the Bowel Cancer Screening Programmes. Primary care plays an important role in the diagnosis of bowel cancer. Almost 60% of cases in England are diagnosed via an urgent or routine GP referral, and a further 10% of cases are diagnosed via screening.
Five year survival rates from bowel cancer are more than 9 out of 10 cases if the cancer is diagnosed at the earliest stage. This falls to 1 in 10 for late stage diagnosis.
NHS bowel cancer screening checks if you could have bowel cancer. It’s available to everyone aged 60 to 74 years.
The programme is expanding to make it available to everyone aged 50 to 59 years. This is happening gradually over 4 years and started in April 2021.
You use a home test kit, called a faecal immunochemical test (FIT), to collect a small sample of poo and send it to a lab. This is checked for tiny amounts of blood.
Blood can be a sign of polyps or bowel cancer. Polyps are growths in the bowel. They are not cancer, but may turn into cancer over time.
If the test finds anything unusual, you might be asked to go to hospital to have further tests to confirm or rule out cancer.
Always see a GP if you have symptoms of bowel cancer at any age, even if you have recently completed a NHS bowel cancer screening test kit – do not wait to have a screening test.
Regular NHS bowel cancer screening reduces the risk of dying from bowel cancer. Bowel cancer is the 4th most common type of cancer. Screening can help prevent bowel cancer or find it at an early stage, when it’s easier to treat.
If you’re 75 or over, you can ask for a kit every 2 years by phoning the free bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60. If you’re worried about a family history of bowel cancer or have any symptoms, speak to a GP for advice.