The peak of the coronavirus pandemic continues to recede, and the NHS is straining to catchup with the backlog of care that resulted from dealing with the pandemic. Whilst waiting times are prolonged, we would encourage everyone with symptoms that may be due cancer to make an appointment at the Practice. For this episode I would like to focus on bowel cancer, also known as colon or colorectal cancer. Symptoms that may be due to bowel cancer include:
Of course, many things other than bowel cancer can cause these symptoms and so having these symptoms does not mean that you have cancer. However, it is particularly important that symptoms like this get investigated promptly.
One of our concerns is the substantial number of people who do not take up the offer of bowel cancer screening. Screening is the process of testing people for a condition when they do not have symptoms. Screening can detect bowel cancer at an early stage or detect polyps which may become cancerous, but which can be removed to reduce the risk of bowel cancer developing. Regular bowel cancer screening reduces the risk of dying from bowel cancer.
The Bowel Cancer Screening Programme offers screening using a home test kit to everyone aged between 56 and 74 every 2 years. People over 74 can ask for a kit every 2 years by calling 0800 707 60 60.
When people do not take part, it may be because of embarrassment, not realising the benefits, not appreciating that they may at risk or understanding the seriousness of the condition. We encourage everyone to take part in this life saving programme. More information is available at NHS bowel cancer screening: helping you decide – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) We shall be contacting people who have not responded to recent Bowel Cancer Screening Programme invitations by text or letter to encourage them to participate.
Best wishes and goodbye for now from the Barton Family Practice team.