The BBC broadcaster, George Alagiah is supporting the NHS London lifesaving campaign to encourage more South Asian people to use their free NHS bowel cancer screening home test, which checks if they could have bowel cancer.
Speaking of his own experience of bowel cancer George said: “If caught early, especially with something like bowel cancer, it’s very treatable.” He explains “I know a lot of people are worried about going to the doctor, but I want people to know these simple tests are done in private at home.”
George knows how important it is to normalise conversations about bowel health. “I understand people may feel embarrassed talking about bowel and stool but this test is easy to do but more importantly could save your life.”
The campaign features Dr Bu Hayee, Consultant Gastroenterologist at Kings College, who urges Londoners who have been sent a free bowel cancer screening kit to complete and return it. “Doing the test is quick and easy.” He goes on to say “Bowel cancer is one of the most common cancers. In the UK, 43,000 people are diagnosed with it and over 16,500 people die from it each year – more than 45 a day.”
“Screening – which you do in private at home – can help prevent bowel cancer or find it at an early stage when it’s easier to treat. Those who complete bowel cancer screening are 25% less likely to die of bowel cancer.
“That’s why the NHS sends out free bowel cancer screening kits to use at home. They are for people with no symptoms and most people do not require any further investigations. So if you are sent a kit, please use it.”
Taking a bowel cancer screening test is easy. It’s a free NHS home test kit, called a faecal immunochemical test (FIT). To do the test, you use the kit to collect a small sample of your stool that is sent to a lab via a prepaid postage label. (no stamp is needed). The sample is checked for tiny amounts of blood. Blood can be a sign of polyps or bowel cancer. Polyps are growths in the bowel. They are not cancer but may turn into cancer over time.
About 98 out of 100 people who use their NHS bowel cancer screening kit need no further tests.
Bowel cancer screening saves lives. For further information, please visit https://www.healthylondon.org/BCS