Don’t throw your health away – make sure you use your bowel cancer screening kit

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Don’t throw your health away – make sure you use your bowel cancer screening kit

Have you been sent a bowel cancer screening kit in the post? If so, please don’t throw it in the bin – you could be throwing away your chance to live a happy and healthy life.

Bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the UK, with around 40,000 people diagnosed every year.

NHS Chiltern Clinical Commissioning Group is calling for people to make use of the kits which screen for symptoms of the disease so they can get treatment early.

Men and women aged between 60 and 74, who are registered with a GP surgery, are sent a bowel cancer screening kit in the post every two years. This involves a simple test that can be done in their own home, which aims to detect possible early signs of bowel cancer before symptoms develop.

Recipients are asked to take stool samples, using the kit provided, which are returned by mail and analysed for traces of blood – a possible early sign of bowel cancer. If the samples show cause for concern, further action can be taken, including any necessary treatment.

However, a relatively low number of screening kits sent out are returned, with many ending up in the bin.

If the condition is caught early, bowel cancer treatment has a high success rate. But the NHS needs your help to make sure you have the best possible chance to beat this form of cancer – by using the screening kit.

So if you have thrown yours away, please call the Bowel Cancer Screening Hub on 0800 707 6060 to get a replacement.

Dr Raj Thakkar, NHS Chiltern CCG’s Clinical Commissioning Director for Planned Care, said: “It is understandable that some people might feel a bit embarrassed or uncomfortable about using these screening kits, but they really need to think twice before throwing the kit away. Bowel cancer screening kits are very effective, and there are good outcomes for most
patients when we catch this condition in time. It really is vital that eligible people make use of them.

“When people discard these kits, they actually risk discarding their own lives. Embarrassment is no reason to throw away your health, so if you are sent a kit, please use it. And if you have thrown one away, then please call the number below for another.

“We want you to support you to lead healthy, happy lives for as long as possible, but we need your help to do that.”

While the screening programme targets people aged 60 – 74, people aged 75 and over can also request a screening kit by calling the bowel screening helpline on 0800 707 6060.

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 from Cancer Research UK.