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NHSE sending bowel cancer screening kit to thousands more people in the North West

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The Faecal Immunochemical Test can catch cancer even before there are any signs or symptoms

NHS England has expanded its national bowel screening programme to people aged 54 so that cancers can be detected at an earlier stage when they are easier to treat.

As part of the expansion, the health service would be sending a home-testing kit for bowel cancer, known as the Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT), to thousands more people in the North West.

Those who are eligible (aged 54 and over) will now automatically receive the kit every two years by post, enabling them to self-check for blood in stool samples, which can be a sign of bowel cancer.

With the expansion of the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme to people aged 54 years, an additional 830,000 people in England will now be eligible for the screening test.

Tricia Spedding, Head of Public Health for NHS England in the North West said the move could help save thousands more lives.

“The FIT kit is a vital part of our screening programme, and can catch cancer even before there are any signs or symptoms, and often when it is more treatable.

“I would urge anyone who receives a kit through the post to return it as quickly as you can. Please don’t ignore it,” she added.

After receiving the FIT kit, which will come with full instructions, participants are required to send their poo sample by post to the NHS for testing, and will be sent their results, along with information about further tests, if needed.

The FIT kit was first introduced into the screening programme in April 2019, and since then national uptake has gone up to over 67 per cent, helping detect more cancers.

NHSE has also advised people to look out for symptoms of bowel cancer, such as tummy discomfort, blood in poo, diarrhoea or constipation for no obvious reason, a feeling of not having emptied your bowels after going to the toilet, pain in your stomach or bottom, and poo that is loose, pale or looks greasy.

If any of these symptoms continue for three weeks or more, contact your doctor and don’t wait for your screening test, it said.

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