Remember, if caught early enough, bowel cancer can be cured.

Some people feel embarrassed about discussing bowel problems with their doctor. By the time the patient seeks medical advice because he or she cannot cope any longer with his or her symptoms,it can sometimes be too late. Be sensible.

Lower age for bowel cancer screening - News Article

date 05/03/2007

'Lower age for bowel cancer screening' click to see article.

Mar 5 2007

 

Madeleine Brindley, Western Mail

 

A FATHER of three is calling for bowel cancer screening to be available to people at 40, after his wife died from the disease.

Nick Phillips, who is in the process of setting up a new charity - Bowel Cancer Wales - wants to raise awareness about the disease, in a bid to reduce the number of people developing it.

His inspiration has been his wife Marcia, who died from bowel cancer in December, just three months after diagnosis at the age of 45.

Nick, 48, who lives in Maesycoedd, near Pontypridd, said, "I wasn't aware of how people can miss the symptoms of cancer until it happened to Marcia.

"It is so important to get an early diagnosis. My mission is now to raise awareness about cancer and its symptoms.

"Nobody really knew how ill Marcia was until her death. People knew she had cancer but they didn't know how serious it was.

"Only Marcia and myself really knew and she didn't want others to be burdened with worry for her - that's how brave and strong she was."

Mrs Phillips worked as an adult guidance careers adviser for Careers Wales, in Caerphilly.

Mr Phillips describes her as "a very strong person [who] was also very caring".

He added, "Marcia would always help others and was the backbone of our family. She was so lively and full of health before she became ill."

Bowel cancer is the UK's second biggest cancer killer - 35,000 people are diagnosed every year and 16,000 will die from the disease.

It is estimated that about 30% of patients do not present themselves until the cancer has spread, making treatment more difficult - its symptoms often go unnoticed until the cancer is well-developed.

The five-year survival rate for patients with advanced bowel cancer is less than 5%.

Health Minister Dr Brian Gibbons announced, last month, that everyone between 50 and 74 will be offered bowel cancer screening within the next two years.

The age limit has been set at 50 because 90% of cases diagnosed are in people over that age.

But Mr Phillips said starting screening at 40 would ensure that the disease in younger people - including his wife, if screening had been available.

It is estimated that one in five deaths from bowel cancer are in people aged 60 and under, including a significant proportion of people under 50.

Some clinical trials have suggested that for best protection bowel cancer screening should start from the age of 40.

Mr Phillips welcomes screening everyone between 50 and 74.

"But it would not have saved Marcia as she contracted the disease at a much younger age. Screening at 50 would have been too late - I will campaign to lower the proposed age for screening from 50 to 40."

A private healthcare initiative - the National Independent Bowel Cancer Screening Programme - does allow people to be screened voluntarily at any age.

The screening kits cost £17.98, from Point of Care Laboratories Ltd and £1 will be donated to cancer research.

Ian Cowie, director of the National Independent Bowel Cancer Screening Programme, said, "The great tragedy of bowel cancer is that it is very easily treatable when caught early, with over 90% of sufferers making a full recovery.

"Unfortunately many cases are detected when the disease has advanced.

"Regular, routine screening is a proven, tried and tested method of detecting this cancer in its early stages."

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesman said, "We recognise that screening plays an important part in tackling bowel cancer and last month we announced the introduction of a national screening programme in Wales.

"All screening involves potential benefit and harm and the Assembly Government, in common with the other UK health departments, takes advice from the National Screening Committee (NSC) on this issue.

"The NSC's advice to us is based on evidence that the risk of bowel cancer increases with age, with more than 90% of cases in people over 50.

"It has recommended a bowel cancer screening programme for men and women aged 50 to 74."

One of Wales' biggest killers
Routine bowel cancer screening is expected to start in Wales towards the end of 2008-09 and people aged 50 to 74 will be invited for screening every two years.

Health Minister Dr Brian Gibbons said, "Bowel cancer is one of Wales' biggest killers. The risk of developing bowel cancer increases with age, with more than 90% of cases in people over 50.

"Early and effective diagnosis is essential in identifying those people who are at risk of developing bowel cancer or detecting it earlier."

Regular bowel cancer screening has been shown to reduce the risk of dying from bowel cancer, in the screened population, by 16%. The NHS bowel screening programme in England started to be rolled out in 2006, but it only offers screening to people aged 60 to 69.

Bowel Cancer Wales can be contacted at www.bowelcancerwales.com, which includes a link to the National Independent Bowel Cancer Screening Programme

Contact: Nick Philips

email: bowelcancerwales@aol.com

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