Send stool samples please!
There are more pleasant presents for your 50th than an NHS bowel screening invite- but no other present has as much potential to save your life.
For the last 4 years the NHS has offered screening for bowel cancer to patients over 50, to be repeated every 3 years. The kits are sent by post to patients who use them to provide a stool sample which is then posted back to the screening programme. Its not a particularly pleasant task, but its easy to do and might save your life. In Mid Argyll last year 2 out of 5 adults sent the test failed to return it. That 40 % missed out on the chance to detect and treat cancer before it advances and produces more obvious effects.
The test picks up traces of blood which are not always visible to the naked eye. These can indicate cancerous changes in the bowel lining, allowing their early treatment. Often early treatment is quick and easy and much less demanding than treatment for more advanced cancers. Picking up and treating bowel cancer early makes a massive difference to the numbers of people dying from it.. About one in 20 people in the UK will develop bowel cancer during their lifetime. It is the third most common cancer in the UK, and the second leading cause of cancer deaths, with over 16,000 people dying from it each year.
Lochgilphead Medical Centre would like to encourage all patients to participate in the screening programme when their tests are sent out.
“Since the screening programme started at the end of 2009 in our practice area we have had 20 new diagnoses of bowel cancer. Of these 12 came from the screening programme. These were patients who didn’t have any symptoms, and who felt absolutely fine. Early detection meant they could have much simpler treatment, and much better prognosis in future. An additional 31 patients out of the 69 who had positive results had very simple treatment for polyps which if left untreated would go on to develop cancer.“
If you have been sent a kit and you are considering whether to participate, please feel free to discuss it with one of our nursing or doctor team. We can also provide specimen dishes and gloves if you require them in order to collect your sample.
Hopefully by being aware of the real benefit that screening has brought to Mid Argyll patients, we will all feel more able and willing to return the tests. Thus taking providing the test can be a positive action that could save life, avoid developing unpleasant symptoms and help to avoid the need for a lot of aggressive treatment for more advanced disease.