More people to benefit as bowel screening programme expands

East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) is offering more people the chance to take a quick and easy test which could help detect bowel cancer early.

Everyone aged 56 who lives in ESNEFT’s catchment area is now being sent a faecal immunochemical test (FIT) kit in the post every two years to check for blood in their stools (poo). If the results are positive, they will be offered an appointment with a specialist screening practitioner to discuss the potential reasons and arrange for a colonoscopy if appropriate.

This will help clinicians to detect polyps or cancers at an early stage so that treatment can start quickly, in turn improving the patient’s chance of making a good recovery.

ESNEFT has been offering the test to people aged 56 since 1 April, which also marked the beginning of national bowel cancer awareness month. The kits are already sent to those aged 60 to 74.

Julie Steadman, lead specialist screening practitioner with ESNEFT’s bowel screening programme, said: “We are pleased that we are now able to offer this simple, yet important, test to even more local people. We would encourage anyone who receives a kit in the post to make sure they take the test, as it will help us to detect any potential problems early.

“Our teams have worked extremely hard to clear the backlogs caused by COVID-19 and are proud that we are now able to roll out this screening more widely and potentially save more lives.”

Over the coming months, bowel cancer screening will gradually be introduced for 58, 54, 50 and 52 year olds, The national aim is to offer screening to everyone aged between 50 and 74 from 2024 onwards.

Symptoms of bowel cancer can include a persistent change in bowel habit, blood in the stools (poo) or abdominal pain associated with either weight loss or bleeding. Anyone who has ongoing symptoms should speak to their GP.

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