Our work in Wales
Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in Wales. Every year more than 2,200 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer in Wales and over 900 people die from the disease. However bowel cancer is treatable and curable especially if diagnosed early.
We undertake a range of activities in Wales as part of our work to save lives and improve the quality of life for all those affected by bowel cancer.
We encourage people to take part in the screening programme
In Wales the bowel cancer screening programme is available to all 60-74 year olds. The Welsh Government has committed to reducing the screening age to 50 by 2021.
What does the screening test look for?
- The screening test looks for hidden blood in your poo.
- Blood in your poo can be a sign of bowel cancer or of other changes such as polyps (small growths).
- Most polyps are harmless but some can lead to bowel cancer. Most polyps can be easily removed.
- Sometimes the blood can be there because a polyp has bled.
- There may also be other reasons for the blood, such as haemorrhoids (piles) or small tears in the bowel.
- The test kit does not tell you if you have bowel cancer. The results will tell you if you need further tests such as a colonoscopy (a camera inserted into your bottom).
In Wales, only 58% of people invited to take part in screening actually do so. We need to do better. Thousands of people are missing out on the chance to detect bowel cancer early when it is easier to treat, or prevent bowel cancer developing in the first place through the removal of high risk polyps. If you would like to order a replacement test kit, you can easily do this. Just click here.
Our awareness talks encourage people to take part in screening by talking to them about the benefits and explaining how to do the test. Book one of our talks here. If you would like to speak to someone from the screening programme, they would be glad to hear from you. Find out more about bowel screening in Wales.
Bowel Screening TV Advertising Campaign
Public Health Wales is leading on the delivery of an integrated campaign based around a promotional TV advert which is fronted by Rugby International Jamie Roberts. We're very proud to be a partner in this campaign, which launched in February 2020 to coincide with the Six Nations Rugby Championships.
The primary aim of the campaign is to promote the #DoTheTest messaging, to encourage uptake amongst those who are been invited to take part in screening for the first time. This is a group which has historically been difficult to engage. The first phase of the campaign will run for eight weeks and there will be a second phase later in the year which will coincide with the rugby union Autumn Internationals.
We raise awareness
Volunteers in Wales who have been affected by bowel cancer, deliver talks in workplaces and take information stands to health and social care settings to help people understand the signs and symptoms and risk factors of bowel cancer. If you would like to book a workplace talk or would like us to come along with a stand, please contact us here.
We're always on the look out for people to join our volunteer team. If you live in Wales and are interested in this role, click here.
We provide information
We publish a wide range of free patient information covering all aspects of bowel cancer; from treatment and surgery to dietary advice and much more. Our booklets and factsheets are used across many health and social care settings across Wales and are given to patients in hospital when they are newly diagnosed or at certain points throughout the course of their treatment. For further information please follow this link.
We connect people
For those who would like to chat with other people who have experienced bowel cancer, please do visit our Online Community. Whether living with or beyond bowel cancer or you're a loved one of someone who is, our online community is a place for anyone affected by bowel cancer to talk openly about their experiences, share their knowledge and support each other.
We support healthcare professionals
We provide training, support and guidance to healthcare professionals. Find out more here.
We act as the Secretariat for the National Colorectal Cancer Nursing Network (NCCNN). This network exists to encourage sharing of best practice among the colorectal cancer nurse community. Sign up to the network here and join the Facebook page today to share ideas and chat your peers.
Our campaigning and policy work covers issues affecting people right across the UK and we include the experience of people in Wales in all our work.
Our campaign 'Right test, Right time' highlights the challenges facing endoscopy services across the UK and in 2018, we launched a Spotlight on Wales report focussing specifically on the challenges that exist around early diagnosis in Wales. Our report, which received excellent media coverage, showed us that Wales has some of the poorest outcomes for bowel cancer across Europe and that the Welsh Government and the NHS in Wales must urgently review the way diagnostic services are delivered.
During the Summer of 2018, we worked closely with the Health and Social Care Committee to secure a One Day Inquiry looking at the state of endoscopy services in Wales. We gave evidence to the Inquiry in November 2018 and the report was published in April 2019. The report made one overarching recommendation, that being for the newly developed National Endoscopy Programme to publish and action plan within six months. This Action Plan was published on time and will be reviewed once again by the Health Committee in October 2020.
In addition to securing the Health Committee Enquiry on endoscopy, we have worked with the Wales Cancer Network to establish a Bowel Cancer Initiative and have supported the first Bowel Cancer Clincial Lead in Wales. This post will work to provide leadership and oversight of all the various work strands which the NHS is delivering to improve bowel cancer outcomes in Wales. By championing bowel cancer in the clinical community and providing strategic direction and guidance the Bowel Cancer Initiative will drive up standards of care and deliver improved outcomes for all those affected by the disease.
In 2018, our 'Time to Test' campaigning work in Wales which focusses on Lynch Syndrome showed that none of the seven health boards in Wales were delivering universal testing for Lynch Syndrome as recommended by NICE. These guidelines state that everyone who is diagnosed with bowel cancer should be tested for this genetic condition which makes individuals more likely to get the disease. At the time, we campaigned in the media, wrote to the Chief Medical Officer in Wales for assurance that this would be addressed.
In April 2019, we celebrated a campaign win! Following a collaborative effort by colleagues at the All Wales Medical Genetic Service, the Wales Cancer Network and ourselves, Senior leaders in NHS Wales committed to funding and supporting a new all Wales service which means, from June 2019, every health board in Wales will follow NICE guidelines to test ALL bowel cancer patients for Lynch syndrome. Read more about this story here.
Issues around endoscopy waiting times, Lynch Syndrome and the introduction of a new screening test called a faecal immunochemical test (FIT) were some of the main issues raised during a recent debate at the National Assembly for Wales where several Assembly Members spoke in support of our Spotlight on Wales report and the need to improve services across all Health Boards in Wales. The Cabinet Secretary for Health gave a comprehensive response to the issues debated and reassurance that challenges around Wales’ diagnostic services, the roll out of FIT and also Lynch Syndrome were very much in hand. Read about the debate, Assembly Members support and watch it back here.
With your support, we can achieve so much more! With help from our campaigners we have secured universal lynch syndrome testing for ALL bowel cancer patients in Wales; our supporters have provided evidence to the Assembly Health Committee to put pressure on the Welsh Government and the NHS to take steps to solve the crisis in our endoscopy services and alongside the wonderful supporters in England, our Wales campaigners helped to secure agreement from the Welsh Government to lower the screening age for screening from 60 to 50. You too can help make a difference, please sign up here.
We work with others
We love to collaborate and work with others to improve outcomes for people with cancer and are involved in a number of groups, alliances and boards which means we can bring all the evidence we have to bear upon bowel and wider cancer policy development in Wales.
We have representations on a number of groups, alliances and boards including:
- Bowel Screening Wales' Programme Board and FIT Optimisation Board
- Wales Cancer Alliance
- Cancer Implementation Group (CIG) sub group on Detecting Cancer Early
- Endoscopy Programme Operational Delivery Group
- Health and Care Research Wales Public Involvement Delivery Board
- Single Cancer Pathway Implementation Group
Moondance Bowel Cancer Project
The Moondance Bowel Cancer Project aims to transform five year bowel cancer survival rates in Wales within a decade. Thanks to funding from the Moondance Foundation, motivated partners from across the bowel cancer community will work together to deliver a series of activities to improve all areas of the patient pathway.
We're determined to help save lives but we can't do this without you. There are lots of ways you can support us in Wales to help us to stop people dying of bowel cancer.
Our supporters and volunteers make change happen. Every bake sale, run, corporate partnership, awareness talk and donation brings us a step closer to stopping bowel cancer.
We're working hard with researchers across the UK. We're campaigning at the heart of Welsh Government. We support patients and their families, and we're educating people about bowel cancer.
We're always looking for people to join us by helping us make change happen. Please take a look at the ways you can support us by clicking here. Thank you / Diolch.
Our team in Wales
Mike Locke, Fundraising Manager
"The fact that Wales is benchmarked in Europe for its poor bowel cancer survival rates is simply not good enough! I am proud to be in a position to help fundraise and support research and life saving work for the people of Wales!"