ACT on bowel cancer during April

April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, and Brighton and Hove’s Act on Cancer Together (ACT) project is asking everyone aged 54 – 74 to take up the offer of a bowel cancer screening test.
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Almost 43,000 new cases of bowel cancer are diagnosed in the UK each year. That’s nearly 120 every single day. But if caught early, more than 90% of bowel cancer cases can be treated successfully.

Currently, only 70% of people in England who are eligible for it do the test. If more people did the test, more lives could be saved.

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Anyone who is aged between 54 and 74 is eligible for the DIY screening kit which will be posted to you. The test is hygienic and can be done in the privacy of your own home before being posted back to the NHS. By the end of 2024, people aged 50 - 53 will also be invited to screen for bowel cancer.

People aged 54 - 74 eligible for screeningPeople aged 54 - 74 eligible for screening
People aged 54 - 74 eligible for screening

The test detects tiny traces of blood in your poo. Even if the test is positive, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have cancer. But it does mean you will be seen by a specialist for further checks.

Jilly Stevens knows what it feels like to have a positive test. She believes it saved her life.

She said: “I did my tests religiously. I had no symptoms and no idea that I had anything wrong with me. When one test wasn’t normal, I had a colonoscopy, and I was told I had cancer. That test saved my life. From the moment I was diagnosed, I had the most wonderful support from everyone in the NHS and my Macmillan nurse and her colleagues were absolutely wonderful. I was supported as a person rather than just a patient”.

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Even if you aren’t in the age group to be invited to take the test, it’s still important that you know what the symptoms of bowel cancer are. If you think you have any of these symptoms, please speak to a health care professional so you can be checked:

  • Bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo.
  • A persistent and unexplained change in your bowel habit.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason.
  • A pain or lump in your tummy.

One in 20 people in the UK will develop bowel cancer at some time during their lives.

As Jilly says: “It’s very scary having cancer. But my goodness, there is a lot of support there”.

ACT is a project run by The Trust for Developing Communities in partnership with The Hangleton and Knoll Project, Macmillan Cancer Support, NHS Sussex, and Brighton and Hove City Council.

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People aged 54 - 74 will automatically be invited to screen for bowel cancer. If you are not within the 54 - 74 age group but have any symptom(s) or concerns, please contact your GP immediately.

If you are 75 or over, you can ask for a kit every two years by phoning the free bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60.

The ACT team can be contacted on 01273 234769 or by email to [email protected]