[A]pril is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and this week sees the launch of a new campaign that aims to increase the uptake of free bowel cancer screening in Cumbria.
Driven by Cumbria County Council, NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group and Cumbria and Morecambe Bay Bowel Screening Centre, the campaign aims to increase the uptake of free bowel cancer screening in the county – at the moment just over half of those eligible take part.
The “Game of Long Life” campaign takes the classic Generation Game as its inspiration, reminding people over 60 of the importance of taking part in the screening programme. The campaign tries to bring a fun twist on what is a serious but often embarrassing subject.
Supported by radio and social media advertising, as well as a series of local awareness raising events, the campaign is a fun twist on what can be an embarrassing subject, especially for men, and aims to get people talking and taking action.
In England, men and women aged between 60 and 74 are sent a bowel screening test kit every two years through the post, with instructions for doing the simple test at home. Kits can then be sent free of charge back to a laboratory for testing.
People aged over 74 can still take part by requesting a screening kit by contacting the bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 6060.
Dr Colin Brown, Clinical Director Cumbria and Morecambe Bay Bowel Cancer Screening Centre, said: “Screening at two yearly intervals is important and can pick up polyps that turn into cancer at an early stage and may reduce the need for surgery if picked up early enough. I would strongly advise anyone receiving the screening invitation to do the test. Over the last ten years our centre has performed almost 6,400 colonoscopy tests within the screening programme and detected over 528 bowel cancers, with about half of these at an early stage.”
Colin Cox, Cumbria County Council’s Director of Public Health said: “Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer and the second most common cause of cancer death in the UK but it’s treatable and curable especially if diagnosed early. Nearly everyone diagnosed at the earliest stage will survive bowel cancer but this drops significantly as the disease develops. Early diagnosis really does save lives, that’s why during April we’re working with partners to raise awareness of bowel cancer screening.”
- On average just over half of those eligible take part in free screening.
- Last year in Cumbria 24,589 test kits were sent out to men and only 14,727 were returned. Nearly 10,000 men left it to chance.
Members of the public who want more information can call the freephone bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60 or go to www.uhmb.nhs.uk/our-services/bowel-screening/. People aged over 74 can request a screening kit by calling the same number.
How do you take the sample?
It sounds unpleasant but the instructions to capture the sample are very simple with advice for keeping it quick and hygienic here: