In support of Men’s Health Week, BowelScreen is encouraging all men aged 60-69 to take part in its free screening programme. The BowelScreen test is simple, quick, easy-to-use and carried out in the comfort of your own home.
BowelScreen has been available to men and women aged 60-69 since 2013 and early results show that more women than men are taking part. Bowel cancer is the second most common cancer among men and women in Ireland. Screening aims to find bowel cancer at an early stage when it is easier to treat.
Dr Alan Smith, Medical Director, commented that “the success of the programme for both the individual and our entire population is very much dependent on everybody acting on their invitation. It is so important to take part when invited and we would particularly encourage men to take up their invitations. The vast majority of people (95%) will have a normal home test result and be invited again in two years’ time. For a small number of people the test might show something that requires a colonoscopy. This investigation is important as if bowel cancer is found early there is a much better chance of treating it successfully.”
The BowelScreen home test looks for tiny amounts of blood in the bowel motion (also called a stool) which are not visible to the eye. Most people will have a normal result. In the small number of cases where a result shows traces of blood not visible to the eye, a colonoscopy will be organised by BowelScreen at a screening colonoscopy unit in a hospital. In order to ensure that the person is offered a colonoscopy in less than four weeks this may mean that the person may need to travel further than their nearest hospital for this procedure.
The BowelScreen programme currently targets those aged 60-69 years. The first round of screening is scheduled to take three years and will be complete at the end of 2015. From 1 January 2016, all those in the 60-69 year age group will be screened every two years. In the meantime people in the age range can check they are on the register by contacting BowelScreen on Freephone 1800 45 45 55.
How the programme works:
- All men and women aged 60-69 should check that they are on the BowelScreen register by calling Freephone 1800 45 45 55.
- Once on the register, over the course of the two year screening round a person will receive an invitation. If they want to take part, they contact BowelScreen with their GP (family doctor) details.
- Following this they will be sent a BowelScreen home test kit in the post with clear instructions on how to do the test.
- The completed test is returned in a special free, pre-paid envelope.
- A letter with the results of their BowelScreen home test is received within four weeks.
More information about the programme is available at www.bowelscreen.ie or from Freephone 1800 45 45 55.
BowelScreen encourages all people, regardless of age or participation in screening, to become bowel aware and to contact their GP advice if they have symptoms of bowel cancer.
Symptoms of bowel cancer may include:
- Bleeding from the back passage (also known as the rectum) for no obvious reason.
- A change in your normal bowel habits that persists for a number of weeks such as diarrhoea, constipation or passing stools more frequently.
A number of benign conditions may also cause these symptoms. But if you have one or more of these symptoms for four weeks or more, you should ask your GP's (family doctor) advice.
How can I reduce my risk of developing bowel cancer?
- Take part in the BowelScreen programme when invited.
- Be more physically active.
- Eat a diet with plenty of dietary fibre such as fruit, vegetables and wholegrain bread, brown rice and cereals.
- Reduce intake of processed and red meat.
- Keep a healthy weight.
- Limit the amount of alcohol you take.
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