Bowel Cancer – How effective is the testing?
A friend of mine recently turned 60 and we found ourselves discussing the shock of receiving a kit through the post for bowel cancer testing. He was shocked to hear from a friend that this would happen.
Why was he shocked?
Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK so why does my friend now know about the testing? I asked if he had been invited to Hospital after his 55th birthday for testing and he said that he had not.
Surely, if this testing is available and it can (and does!) save lives, people should know about it?
In the UK, following their 60th birthday men and women are sent a bowel screening kit to be completed at home. This is called a faecal occult blood test. The test looks for tiny traces of blood in poo and this can help spot bowel cancer at an early stage before symptoms.
BUT there is another test, one that was to be rolled out across the UK when people are 55 years of age.
Bowel scope uses a thin, flexible tube with a small camera and light at the end of it to look inside the lower part of the bowel (the rectum and sigmoid colon). This means the bowel scope can find early stage cancers that aren’t yet causing any symptoms.
Spotting bowel cancer at an early stage can make a big difference to surviving the disease.
As well as being able to detect bowel cancers at an early stage, bowel scope can also prevent the disease by finding polyps, small growths which if left untreated sometimes develop into bowel cancer.
Since 2010 the Bowel Scope should have been more widely available and then by last year, 2017, it was planned that it should be available across the UK but a number of UK trusts have said that it will not yet form part of their routine screening.
A lack of trained staff to perform the test is one reason for the lack of uptake but the other appears to have been that not enough people were, initially, responding to the invitations to undertake the test.
Major Cancer charities and support groups are campaigning for routine Bowel Scope screening across the UK.
At Swain & Co Solicitors, we undertake a large amount of cases for people who have suffered delay in the diagnosis of cancer or have not been able to access the treatment that they needed. If you have suffered in this way and have been left with lasting injuries or a reduced life expectancy contact our experienced team to discuss your claim today on 02392 483322.