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People urged to take up bowel cancer screening

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A Dudley Council health boss is calling on eligible Dudley residents to have a potentially life-saving test to spot the early signs of bowel cancer.

In Dudley borough, more than half of eligible Dudley residents have taken advantage of the national bowel cancer screening programme.

National home screening test kits are posted every two years to people aged 60 to 74. Fifty five percent of people in Dudley respond to this simple and pain free screening method which checks for tiny amounts of blood in their poo. It doesn't diagnose bowel cancer, but it's a simple way to find out if further tests are needed.

In addition, people aged 55 in Dudley borough are offered a one-off routine appointment where a specialist uses an endoscope to take a look inside the colon for any signs of cancer or precancerous changes, such as polyps. It takes just 20 minutes.

If precancerous changes are identified early, treatment can be provided to prevent the changes developing into bowel cancer.

Debs Harkins, Director of Public Health at Dudley Council, said:

It’s shocking to think every 15 minutes in the UK someone is diagnosed with bowel cancer. We know the chances of survival are much greater if the cancer is caught early enough and we are lucky in the UK that we have a bowel cancer screening programme.
It’s great that most people in Dudley do take up the offer of screening, but still more people could take up the opportunity. Doing the home test kit to check your poo may sound embarrassing or unpleasant, but it only takes a few minutes and is a proven way to check if you could have cancer.
I can’t stress enough the importance of being screened as bowel cancer can be treated and cured if it is found early.
People can speak to their local pharmacist or cancer screening champion at their GP practice should they want any further information or guidance.”

Symptoms of bowel cancer include bleeding from the bottom, blood in stools, a persistent and unexplained change in bowel habit, unexplained weight loss, extreme tiredness for no reason, or a pain or lump in the tummy.

People can reduce their risk of bowel cancer by eating less red and processed meat, eating more fibre, keeping hydrated, maintaining a healthy body weight, being more physically active, limiting their alcohol intake and not smoking.

People who have missed their appointment can still have it done before their 60th birthday and if they are 75 or over, they can ask for a home test kit every two years by phoning the free bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60.

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