Beating bowel cancer together

Almost half of people living in Wales ignore the life-saving bowel screening test

Tuesday 9 October 2018

On average just over half of people (53%) living in Wales are taking advantage of a free bowel screening test that has the potential to save lives.

Together with Bowel Screening Wales we are encouraging more people living in the country to complete the test when they receive it in the post, as this month marks the tenth anniversary of bowel screening in Wales.

Bowel screening can detect bowel cancer at an early stage in people with no symptoms when it is easier to treat and there is a greater chance of survival.

Uptake rates for bowel cancer screening are low with little variation across Wales. Ideally we want to see everyone take up their screening offer. The bottom three areas that need to see the most improvement are: Merthyr Tydfil (49%), Cardiff (49%) and Wrexham (50%). The top three areas with the highest uptake are: Anglesey (55%), Powys (55%) and Caerphilly (54%).

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 in private and it comes with step by step instructions. The test looks for hidden blood in your poo, which could be an early sign of bowel cancer.

More than 2,200 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year in Wales and over 900 people die from the disease. It’s the second biggest cancer killer in the country. However it shouldn’t be because it is treatable and curable especially if diagnosed early.

Bowel Screening Wales and the charity are raising awareness of the importance of bowel cancer screening, as part of the 10 year anniversary since the introduction of the test in Wales. Since October 2008:

  • Bowel Screening Wales have sent out 765,000 screening tests to people aged 60-74 living across the country
  • 21,700 people living in the country received a positive result, and were invited to their local hospital for further tests
  • 18,200 people had a colonoscopy to look inside their bowel, of which 10,000 polyps  were removed
  • 2,200 people were told they had bowel cancer

Lowri Griffiths, Head of Wales for Bowel Cancer UK, says: “It’s quite simple, bowel screening saves lives. I would encourage everyone who’s over 60 to take the test, and for those who are younger to encourage their loved ones to complete it. Don’t delay or put the test off - it could save yours or your loved ones life.

“Quite often fears or concerns about bowel screening can be overcome by getting more information about the test. I would urge anybody who is unsure of how to complete the kit, to click here for more information.”

Hayley Heard, Head of Programme at Bowel Screening Wales, says: “Nearly 2,200 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer in Wales each year so it’s important not to ignore your bowel screening kit when it arrives and to be aware of the early signs and symptoms of bowel cancer. The screening test looks for cancer at the earliest stages, when it is more treatable and gives people a much better chance of survival.”


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