Friday, 23 January 2009

'Poo in the post' test is beating bowel cancer

A BOWEL cancer screening programme operating in Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton, has shown after just six months that it can save lives.
The two-year rolling programme automatically invites everybody aged between 60 and 69 years to send in a tiny stool sample to be tested.
The take up rate in Somerset so far has been between 60 per cent and 70 per cent, one of the highest figures of any programme nationally.
As a result of the test kit, more than 200 people have been called in for further discussion and a colonoscopy procedure.
Colonoscopy is an endoscopic examination of the large bowel which can diagnose bowel cancer at an early stage before symptoms arise.
Pre-cancerous polyps can be removed during the procedure without need for surgery.
In the six months the programme has been running, 21 patients have been referred on to the surgical team at Musgrove for treatment and 90 patients have had polyps removed.
Taunton Deane Councillor Tony McMahon, aged 62, of Milverton, was among those who received a testing pack and as a result of the sample he was called in for a colonoscopy where a polyp was found and removed.
Councillor McMahon said: “I am extremely lucky. The doctor told me that if untreated, this polyp would have become cancerous in five years time, and I may never have seen any symptoms.
“I was given a mild anaesthetic before the test, and then watched the whole thing on a television screen.
“Now, I only have to go back every 12 months for a check up.
“I was talking to a friend recently who said that he was not going to send in the test - but if a simple ‘poo in the post’ test can save your life, then why delay?”
Musgrove bowel cancer screening programme co-ordinator Julia Heneker said: “Tony’s story is a great example of how the screening programme works.
“The earlier we find a problem, the better the chance of treating it successfully.
“Sometimes, people are a bit embarrassed to talk about faeces and any problems they might have - but this is simple, private, and can save your life.”
  • Our photograph shows Councillor Tony McMahon (left) with Julia Heneker and consultant gastro enterologist Dr Stirling Pugh. Photo submitted.

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