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Charity calls for lower cancer screening age

Charity calls for lower cancer screening age

Published at 6:02am 4th April 2017.

A charity says more than 700,000 people in Yorkshire and the Humber are being denied a potentially life-saving cancer screening test.

At the moment, it is only offered to people aged 60 and over, but Beating Bowel Cancer is calling for the Government to reduce the screening age to 50.

Bowel cancer is the UK's second biggest cancer killer, but the disease is treatable and curable.

Judith Brodie, Acting Chief Executive of Beating Bowel Cancer, said: "Around 41,000 people a year are diagnosed with bowel cancer in the UK and more than 1 in 10 of them are in their 50s. However, only those in Scotland are currently given the same chance of an early diagnosis as the over-60s.

"If diagnosed at this early stage, 97% of cases can be successfully treated, but this drops to just 7% if diagnosed at a late stage. You're far more likely to be diagnosed at an early stage through screening than via your GP or A & E. So it's shocking that currently over 700,000 people in Yorkshire and Humberside alone are being denied the chance of an early diagnosis via screening."

Steve Worsnop, from Topcliffe, added: "In the last two years, I've lost both my mother and my brother to bowel cancer. Their cancers weren't diagnosed early enough for them to be treated successfully. I don't want other families to go through what we have, when in many cases it can be prevented.

"Thousands of people in England are diagnosed at a late stage in their 50 and even in their 60s through screening. If screening was in place for them in their 50s, many lives could be saved by catching the cancer early. So I hope people in Yorkshire and Humberside will support the lowering of the screening age to ensure that in the future those in their 50s in the region will have the same opportunity for an early diagnosis as those in Scotland."

In Harrogate, people aged 55 are offered a one-off bowel scope test called a flexible sigmoidoscopy, which is in addition to the national screening programme.

A new facility to accommodate this test is currently being built at Harrogate District Hospital and will be completed by December this year.

Dr Sian Greenwood, a GP at the Spa Surgery and Cancer Lead across the 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 one's life. Bowel cancer is treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early.

"Across the Harrogate District, about four residents in every 10 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%."

If you have any questions or would like more information about bowel cancer screening, you can call 0800 707 60 60, talk to your GP or visit the NHS Choices website at www.nhs.uk