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Don’t put off your bowel cancer screening

A white toilet unravels and the strip of tissue forms the words 'Life Saving Poo'

In a new ‘Help Us, Help You’ campaign that is the first of its kind nationally, NHS England is encouraging people who have been sent an NHS bowel cancer screening kit to complete the test. It follows on from an NHS bowel cancer screening campaign launched in London last summer.

Fanta Bojang, lead for Prevention, Awareness and Screening at the North Central London Cancer Alliance says: “Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK, and detecting it at the earliest stage makes you up to nine times more likely to be successfully treated. But almost one third of people who were sent an NHS bowel cancer screening test in England last year did not go on to complete it. We want to raise awareness of the importance of screening for eligible residents in north London.”

Just a tiny sample detects signs of cancer before you notice anything wrong. The test is simple to do in the privacy of your own bathroom. Anyone aged 60 to 74 who lives in England and is registered with a GP practice will be sent a test in the post automatically, every two years. NHS England is also gradually extending the age range to include all 50- to 59-year-olds by 2025.

Camden resident Dick Carruthers, almost 57, is a committed fitness enthusiast. Last year he was among the first 56-year-olds to be sent the test. He completed it “which took five seconds” and returned the sample as instructed. Then he got a letter which said that further investigation was needed. Scans and a biopsy revealed a stage 3 cancer tumour. Surgery and chemotherapy followed, and he is making good progress.

“I can’t thank the NHS enough for sending the kit, and all the subsequent amazing care I have received,” says Dick Carruthers. “It’s not melodramatic to say I owe my life to the screening programme. Because I had absolutely no symptoms at all, I would never have thought there was anything wrong.”

The NHS is asking anyone who is sent a bowel cancer screening test to remember to complete it. Put it by the loo. Don’t put it off. Your next poo could save your life.

Visit NHS bowel screening for more information.

Read Dick’s story here

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