APRIL is bowel cancer awareness month and the Northern Trust is reminding people to complete and return their screening kit, as it could save your life.
The Northern Ireland Bowel Cancer Screening Programme offers screening every two years to men and women aged 60 to 71. People in this age group are sent an invitation, information materials and a screening kit so they can do the test at home.
Bowel cancer kills more than 400 people annually in Northern Ireland and there are 1,000 new cases every year. Early treatment is vital to ensure patients have the best chance of surviving the condition.
To raise awareness of the importance of the screening kits Specialist Screening Practitioners recently spent a day giving out leaflets on the service, to those attending the Out patients department in Antrim Area Hospital. Three Bowel Cancer screening nurses from the Trust have also organised a raffle to raise money for two local cancer charities. In Whiteabbey Hospital staff will be holding a coffee morning on Monday 29th April.
Dr Paul Lynch, Consultant Gastroenterologist said, “The Bowel Cancer Screening Programme can detect signs of bowel cancer at a very early stage, when there is a 90 percent chance that treatment will be successful. This programme has the potential to reduce deaths from bowel cancer by 15 percent, which would mean 60 fewer deaths in Northern Ireland each year.
Sharon Henry, Specialist Screening Practitioner said, “The aim of the bowel cancer screening programme is early detection of potential cancers and to treat before they or the symptoms develop. The majority of cancers that we have picked up have come from people with absolutely no symptoms, so even if people have no symptoms and feel well, they should still participate in the programme and complete and return the kit.”