Tak­ing sim­ple test could save your life

Midweek Visiter - - News -

IF you are aged 60-74 and reg­is­tered with a GP then you should au­to­mat­i­cally be sent a free NHS bowel can­cer screen­ing kit in the post, ev­ery two years.

If you are 75+ then you can re­quest a kit to be sent to you.

Don’t be em­bar­rassed to com­plete the test; it could save your life. You do the test at home. It in­volves go­ing to the toi­let three times within 10 days and tak­ing a stool sam­ple and, us­ing the card­board sticks pro­vided, putting it into the test kit.

You then post it in the pre­paid en­ve­lope to the or­gan­i­sa­tion that tests your sam­ples and they will usu­ally send you your re­sults by post within two weeks.

They check your sam­ples for tiny amounts of blood that may be too small to be seen, but could be an in­di­ca­tion of bowel can­cer.

If they find any, you will be of­fered fur­ther tests at the hos­pi­tal to find out ex­actly what is hap­pen­ing. Don’t be em­bar­rassed or afraid. Bowel can­cer screen­ing is a sim­ple way to de­tect if some­thing is wrong at an early stage, which greatly in­creases the prob­a­bil­ity of ef­fec­tive treat­ment.

You won’t be alone do­ing this ei­ther.

In the North West more than 26,300 men and women com­plete and re­turn a bowel can­cer screen­ing test ev­ery month.

If in the nor­mal course of events you no­tice any un­usual or per­sis­tent changes to your stools or bowel habits, don’t wait for the screen­ing kit to ar­rive – see your doc­tor right away.

Carol Rat­cliffe is 71 and her test was pos­i­tive.

She said: “I had no symp­toms when I re­ceived the bowel can­cer screen­ing test, but when I saw it was from the NHS, I thought it was im­por­tant to do.

“I was a bit shocked when I was di­ag­nosed, but thank­fully my can­cer was found early. I had surgery a month later and needed no fur­ther treat­ment. “I’m still liv­ing life to the full.” Bowel can­cer is the fourth most com­mon type of can­cer in the UK and the risk in­creases with age.

More than nine in 10 peo­ple di­ag­nosed with it are 55 or over, so do please take the test. You can also help to pre­vent it by tak­ing care of your­self.

The NHS es­ti­mates that more than 40% of cases could be pre­vented by watch­ing your weight, eat­ing a bal­anced diet with plenty of fruit and veg­eta­bles, tak­ing reg­u­lar ex­er­cise, cut­ting down on al­co­hol and stop­ping smok­ing.

For more in­for­ma­tion, to an­swer any ques­tions or to re­quest a kit if you’re 75 or over call the con­fi­den­tial Freep­hone NHS bowel can­cer screen­ing helpline on 0800 707 60 60 (Mon­day-Fri­day, 9am to 5pm).

Tak­ing the screen­ing test gives you the re­as­sur­ance that any prob­lem can be quickly dealt with

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