A Leeds GP is on a mission to raise awareness of the importance of testing for bowel cancer with statistics showing a 97 per cent survival rate for people diagnosed at the earliest stage.
Dr Hasantha Jayasinghe is currently helping run a campaign in south Leeds to ensure residents are taking advantage of the free test kits sent out to homes and are fully informed on the disease.
Every 30 minutes someone in the UK dies from bowel cancer despite it being one of the easiest cancers to treat if caught early.
Whether people are uncomfortable with discussing the subject or have the ‘it’ll never happen to me’ ideology, the results show a low take-up rate of testing in the UK, especially amongst BME communities.
Dr Jayasinghe said: “It is such a simple test and 98 per cent of the time, people will receive a normal result.
“If you catch the cancer early there is a very high chance of defeating it quickly, while statistics show that only 10 per cent of people who catch it at the latest stages will survive past five years.
“We are currently working with individuals in the local area to raise awareness of the importance of testing for bowel cancer and will be visiting local mosques to spread the message and offer guidance.”
Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer and predominantly occurs in people aged over 60 years.
Symptoms to look out for include: blood in your poo or looser poo, a pain or lump in your stomach, feeling more tired than usual for some time, or losing weight for no obvious reason.
For people aged 60-74, a free test pack is sent out to their home every two years by the NHS which allows them to carry out a test without even having to visit their local GP.
The test contains everything you need – just three items – and is very simple and straightforward to use – simply sample, seal, send.
The three items you receive are a spatula for taking a small poo sample, a sealable card carrier to place the sample on and a freepost envelope to post it for screening. It is hygienically contained.
The test checks for the presence of blood in a stool sample, which could be an early sign of bowel cancer, and can even detect the cancer at an early stage, before symptoms appear.
After completing the test, you’ll receive the results within two weeks of sending in the kit with one of three possible results.
Most people will have a normal result, meaning no further tests are needed and you’ll be invited to take part in screening again in two years (if you’re still aged 60-74).
A few people will have an unclear result, and they will be asked to repeat the FOB test up to two more times.
If the result comes back abnormal, the individual will be offered an appointment to discuss colonoscopy at a local screening centre.
Dr Jayasinghe added: “If you have any of the symptoms that are common in bowel cancer, and your results come back ‘normal’ it is important that you still visit your GP.
“I want to see our community become healthier and that is something I am really passionate about.
“People naturally feel empowered when they are in good health so by carrying out these tests, of which the large majority will come back negative, it will give a lift to many people in the community.”
Asian Express Newspaper are proud to be backing the campaign this year, with features to run throughout December.