Mid Ulster District Council is supporting Bowel Cancer Awareness Month in April by urging residents aged 60-74 to take part in screening.
Bowel cancer is the second most common cancer in Northern Ireland and the second biggest cancer killer. Every year around 1100 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer here and approximately 400 people die from the disease.
The NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme which commenced in Northern Ireland in April 2010, can detect bowel cancer at an early stage in people with no symptoms when the disease is easier to treat.
If you’re registered with a GP and aged 60-74, you will receive a test in the post every two years. You carry out the simple test at home and it comes with step by step instructions.
The screening test cannot tell if you have bowel cancer. It simply sorts people into two groups – those who do not need any more tests and those who should have further tests.
Bowel cancer screening can save lives – it has been shown to reduce the risk of dying from bowel cancer by 16% and if detected at a very early stage then treatment can be 90% successful meaning that approximately 60 deaths could be prevented here each year- however, despite all this, only half of those who receive a test complete it.
Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Linda Dillion, feels these facts need to be emphasised to the public. She said: “With bowel cancer being the second biggest cancer killer here I felt the Council had to get involved and help promote Bowel Cancer Awareness Month this month. More needs to be done to make people aware of the bowel screening programme and to promote the lifesaving benefits of it! The fact that 60 lives a year could potentially be saved here as a result of the screening is too great a statistic to ignore!
“I would urge anyone in the district within the relevant age range to complete the screening tests or for anyone who falls outside of the age group but is experiencing worrying or unusual symptoms to contact their GP.”
Bernie McGarry, Bowel Cancer UK, Health Promotion & Fundraising Officer, NI, added: “One in 14 men and one in 19 women here will be diagnosed with bowel cancer during their lifetime but it is treatable and curable especially if diagnosed early. Nearly everyone diagnosed at the earliest stage will survive bowel cancer. However, this drops significantly as the disease develops.
“Taking part in bowel cancer screening is the best way to get diagnosed early. If you are over 60 then please take the test when you receive it in the post. If you are younger please pass the message on to those in your life eligible to take the test.”
Visit www.cancerscreening.hscni.net for more information on the Bowel Screening Programme in Northern Ireland. Or visit Bowel Cancer UK’s website on www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk to register for a free fundraising pack and to find out more about the campaign.