GPs encourage more people in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland to takepart in bowel cancer screening

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To coincide with Bowel Cancer Awareness Month during April, the NHS in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland (LLR) has issued videos, featuring local GPs, to encourage more people to take part in bowel cancer screening.

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK and is the second biggest cause of death from cancer. However, it is treatable, especially if it diagnosed at an early stage. In order to facilitate early diagnosis, a screening kit is sent to people aged 54 to 75, every 2 years, and this is being expanded to include people over 50.

Although uptake for bowel cancer screening is increasing, it is still lower than for other national cancer screening programmes, and across LLR the uptake is even lower than the national average.

The videos, which are available in a choice of languages, explain how to complete the home testing kit.

Richard Robinson, Consultant Gastroenterologist at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, said: “There is strong evidence that, by completing the screening test, you can reduce the risk of dying from bowel cancer very significantly.

“The test can be done in the comfort of your home and only needs a tiny sample of poo to test for signs of possible cancer. The samples are checked for tiny amounts of blood, which are not visible to the naked eye. This can be a sign of cancer, or of polyps which can turn into cancer over time.

“Screening can help prevent bowel cancer or find it at an early stage, when it’s easier to treat. Taking part in screening is an individual choice, but it must be a choice that’s equally available and accessible to everyone.”

Dr Andy Ahyow, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for the LLR Integrated Care Board, said: “In terms of uptake for the bowel cancer screening programme, it’s clear that there are differences between areas and across different demographic groups, and this includes people who do not read or write English, or whose first language isn’t English. In several areas of Leicester city, there are lower numbers of people that have been screened, which also have higher numbers of Asian residents.

“This is why we have produced these videos in Urdu and Gujarati, as well as in English, and with subtitles in a choice of languages. We hope these videos will result in more people doing their test kits which, in turn, should result in saving lives through the earlier detection of bowel cancer.”

Varsha Parmar, Chief Executive Officer of Equality Action, based in Loughborough, said: “We work with people from ethnic minority communities, many of whom are very scared and reluctant to do the bowel cancer screening test. Through using the video and other promotional material, we can encourage people to take the test.

“The video is very clear and highlights the method and the importance of early screening. The different languages make it very relatable for the viewers as they understand the message clearly and can identify with the speaker. We will use this video at our groups and events to encourage more people to do the test”.

The videos can be viewed on YouTube or on the LLR ICB website.

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