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Patients urged to return bowel cancer screening tests

Healthcare professionals in Bath and Bristol are urging patients that are eligible for the free NHS bowel cancer screening to return to clinics and surgeries across the region for the test.

The NHS England Bath, Gloucestershire, Swindon and Wiltshire Screening and Immunisation Team are concerned that not enough people are taking up their free NHS invitation to be screened. Patients between the ages of 60 and 74 years of age are offered a free bowel cancer screening and test, yet only approximately 40% of those eligible have not taken part.

Dr Ardiana Gjini, the public health consultant for the Bath, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire NHS team said, “Everyone who receives an invitation from the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Centre should take up the offer to be screened. It’s a simple but important test that allows us to detect bowel cancer early. If we can identify cancer early enough, we can begin treatments sooner. This can make a big difference to patients and can save lives.”

Bowel cancer is currently the third most common cancer in the UK, and the second leading cause of cancer deaths. 1 in 20 of the UK’s population will develop bowel cancer during their lifetime with over 16,000 people dying from it each year.

Once bowel cancer is diagnosed, it’s usually successfully treated. The difficulty is in getting people diagnosed when they won’t visit a health professional or even their local GP because they’re embarrassed about the symptoms. This is why returning your free bowel cancer screening kit is so important, as it can detect the abnormalities and symptoms of bowel cancer before it’s too late. Most people who attend the screening will have a normal result, but in 2% of screened cases, an abnormality will be diagnosed and hopefully with early detection appropriate and successful treatments can be offered.

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