Monday, 13 May 2013

Bowel cancer is the BIGGER killer... but there is a test that could help to save lives

IF you were told that there was a screening test for a cancer that kills more people than breast cancer, would you take it? It's a fair bet that most people would, of course.

But such a test does exist - for bowel cancer, which is the UK's second-biggest killer - and little over half the population bothers to send it back.

Everyone in Britain who has recently turned 60 (or 50 in Scotland) gets a faecal occult blood (FOB) test through the post. It's vaguely unpleasant and slightly messy to do because it involves collecting a sample and wiping it on to a special card each day for three days, but it's not difficult and you don't have to go to a clinic - just post it back.

The test detects whether there is any blood in a bowel movement - one of the key indicators of bowel cancer, which affects about 41,000 people a year, making it the second most common cancer in women and the third in men.

If blood is detected, patients are called in for a colonoscopy to observe the bowel and spot any suspicious-looking growths. Most bowel cancers start off as little polyps, which can be easily removed before they have a chance to become cancerous.

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