Bowel Cancer Awareness Month
01/04/2014Screening for bowel cancer has been extended to 74 years from 1 April to coincide with Bowel Cancer Awareness Month.
Ronan Carroll, Assistant Director of Acute Services for Cancer and Clinical Services at the Southern Health and Social Care Trust, explains: “The new age extension means that screening will now be available for participants up to the age of 74 years. Our most recent rate for bowel screening in the Southern Trust is 47 per cent and we hope the extended programme will mean even more people will participate as uptake in our area is below the Northern Ireland average.”
To raise awareness of bowel cancer and the bowel screening programme, health promotion stands involving Specialist Screening Practitioners have been organised on three dates:
- Thursday 10 April – Daisy Hill Hospital Main Foyer
- Tuesday 15 April – Craigavon Area Hospital Main Foyer
- Tuesday 29 April – South Tyrone Hospital Outpatients Department
Dr Tracy Owen, Consultant in Public Health Medicine at the Public Health Agency, said: “The bowel screening programme has been operating for four years in Northern Ireland and has detected over 300 cases of cancer. We are delighted that we are now in a position to offer screening to a wider age range of the population and, from 1 April, the programme will include all men and women aged 60 to 74 years.
“Men and women who are eligible for screening receive a test kit in the post at their home address. It is important that your GP has your most up-to-date address and correct date of birth or you may miss the chance to take part in the programme. The simple home test kit, can be completed easily in the privacy of your own home and returned to the laboratory for analysis. The kit is used to detect traces of blood in the bowel motion, which indicate that further tests need to be carried out. Most people who are tested will have no blood in their bowel motions and will be invited to repeat the screening test again in two years’ time.”
Latest figures show that only 53% of people in Northern Ireland who are receiving test kits are actually completing them.
“The Public Health Agency would therefore strongly encourage anyone who receives a test kit to carefully read the enclosed information leaflets to help them make a fully informed decision about participating,” said Dr Owen. “Screening offers the best chance of early detection of bowel cancer and the earlier it is detected the more successful treatment is likely to be.”