If you are aged 60 or over, a life-saving bowel cancer screening test could soon be arriving in the post – please make sure you use it so you can get any treatment you may need as soon as possible.
And if you are below 60, please remind any older loved ones to ensure they use the kit too.
April is Bowel Cancer Awareness month and NHS Aylesbury Vale and Chiltern Clinical Commissioning Groups are calling for people in Buckinghamshire to give themselves the best chance possible for a long and healthy life by using the screening kits.
They are sent out every two years to people aged between 60 and 74 who are registered with a GP Surgery (people above that age can request a kit via the number below). The simple test can be done in your own home and can detect possible early signs of bowel cancer before symptoms develop.
Recipients use the kit to take a stool sample, then return it in the mail. It is then analysed and further action can be taken if there is any cause for concern.
In Bucks, around 59% of those sent a kit return it. This figure is slightly above the national average – but still not high enough, with too many kits thought to end up in the bin. Embarrassment is believed to be one of the main reasons for this.
Dr Raj Thakkar, Clinical Commissioning Director for Planned Care for the CCGs, said: “Bowel cancer can be very treatable if it is caught early, and the key to doing that is by screening. It is quick, simple and can flag up potentially serious problems that would otherwise go unnoticed. Quite simply, these little kits can mean the difference between life and death. Neglecting your health out of embarrassment or worry could have terrible consequences, so please, when you are sent a kit, use it. And if you have older relatives or loved ones, please remind them to use theirs. ”
People aged 75 and over can request a screening kit by calling the bowel screening helpline on 0800 707 6060. Anyone who has thrown a kit away can also order a new one on that number.
Remember also that taking some simple steps to improve diet and staying active can reduce your risk of developing bowel cancer. Aim to eat five portions of fruit and veg a day, make sure you eat plenty of fibre. Also, avoid processed meats and have no more than 500g of red meat per week.
For more information about bowel cancer visit NHS Choices
Further information is available from Cancer Research UK