Bowel Cancer is treatable and curable says Harrogate GP Cancer lead, but get tested

April is Bowel Awareness Month and this year bowel charities are focusing on the importance of bowel screening.

In this screening is undertaken at Kingswood and the District Hospital Endoscopy Unit.

  • 50% of people referred after screening will have a normal colonoscopy,
  • 40% will have a polyp and if removed this can prevent cancer developing.
  • 10% will have bowel cancer and can be referred quickly to access the appropriate treatment

Bowel cancer is the UK’s second biggest cancer killer but it is treatable and curable especially if diagnosed early. Screening can detect bowel cancer early before any symptoms appear, when it is easier to treat. It can also prevent bowel cancer from developing in the first place by picking up non-cancerous growths (polyp) which could become cancerous in the future.

Bowel cancer kills 44 people in the UK every day with 16,000 people in the UK dying from it annually. Screening saves lives but at the moment in some areas of the UK only a third of those who receive a test in the post complete it. Across Harrogate district the uptake of bowel cancer screening is 62%. This is better than the England average of 56% but still means that almost 40% of eligible residents are not currently taking advantage of the screening process.

Taking part in bowel cancer screening is one of the ways to get diagnosed early. If you’re registered with a GP and aged 60-74 you will receive a free NHS bowel cancer screening test in the post every two years.

Screening involves submitting a small amount of your bowel motion (poo) samples on special cards which are then sent by a hygienically FREEPOST envelope to a laboratory for testing. The test then detects any hidden blood in that sample (Faecal Occult Blood, FOB). 98% of people will have a normal FOB result. If it is positive an examination of the bowel will be required- a colonoscopy.

At age 55 years people are invited to attend for a one off bowel scope test called a flexible sigmoidoscopy. This is in addition to the national screening programme detailed above. A new facility to accommodate this test is currently being built at Harrogate District Hospital and will be completed by December 2017.

Dr Sian Greenwood, GP at the Spa Surgery and Cancer Lead across Harrogate district said: Bowel Cancer Screening saves lives. It’s predicted that the screening programme will save over 2,000 lives each year by 2025. I would encourage everyone who is over 60 to take the test and for those who are younger to encourage people over 60 in your life to complete it. It could save yours or your loved ones life. Bowel cancer is treatable and curable especially if diagnosed early.

Across Harrogate district, about four residents in every ten eligible for bowel cancer screening are not taking advantage of this opportunity. Regular bowel cancer screening has been shown to reduce the risk of dying from bowel cancer by 16%

This awareness campaign has also attracted support from a number of England stars including David Beckham, Steven Gerrard, Rio Ferdinand and current players Joe Hart and Harry Kane who are raising awareness of bowel cancer screening on behalf of the Bobby Moore Fund. The Bobby Moore Fund was established by the late World Cup winning captain’s widow Stephanie Moore to raise awareness of bowel cancer which claimed his life in 1993 when he was aged just 51.

If you have any questions or would like more information about screening for bowel cancer you can:

  • Contact your programme hub on Freephone 0800 707 60 60
  • Talk to your GP
  • Visit NHS Choices website at

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