West Norfolk cancer screening boost

A pioneering cancer screening programme for the over-60s is to be extended to cover west Norfolk.The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital became one of the first in the country to offer bowel cancer screening last August - asking people to complete a simple test in their own homes.

A pioneering cancer screening programme for the over-60s is to be extended to cover west Norfolk.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital became one of the first in the country to offer bowel cancer screening last August - asking people to complete a simple test in their own homes.

Since then, about 20,000 people in Norwich, north and south Norfolk, Yarmouth and the Waveney valley have taken part in the screening programme, which is the second biggest cause of cancer deaths in the UK.

Thanks to people completing a simple test at home, one case has been identified each week for early treatment.

From next Monday, men and women aged between 60 and 69 in west Norfolk will also be invited to take part in the NHS programme, after staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in King's Lynn have teamed up with their counterparts at the N&N.

Dr Andrew Douds, consultant gastroenterologist at the QEH, said: “This important new service is going to bring real benefits to the local population.

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“It will save lives from bowel cancer as well as prevent the need for surgery in some individuals. This will be of benefit not only to the men and women identified through the screening programme but also to their relatives and friends.”

Older residents in west Norfolk will be sent an invitation to take part in the screening, along with a leaflet explaining the test which can be done in the privacy of their home.

The test detects tiny traces of blood and indicates whether further tests are needed.

If a test result indicates there might be a problem then a specialist nurse will see people at a clinic at the QEH.

Dr John Battersby, director of public health for Norfolk PCT, said: “A simple test carried out in the privacy of someone's home can save lives and make a difference to individuals and their families.

“We would urge everyone to take this opportunity.”

About 80pc of bowel cancers arise in people who are over 60 there are about 35,000 cases each year and 16,000 deaths.

Although bowl cancer affects more than one in 20 people in their lifetime, 90pc survive if it is caught early.

The introduction of screening in west Norfolk is part of the roll out of the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme nationally.

The first stage of the programme began in 2006 and it is anticipated that it will take about three years for screening to be phased in across England.

Residents aged 70 and over are being encouraged to call a freephone helpline on 0800 7076060 to request a kit.

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