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Bowel Cancer Screening Programme Launched Bristol And Weston

 26 November 2008

University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust (UH Bristol) is delighted to announce that the life saving NHS Bowel Screening Programme was launched in the Bristol and Weston area from today (Monday 1 December 2008).

The NHS has been phasing in the NHS Bowel Screening Programme since 2006, so far creating around 35 local screening centres in England. By the end of 2009 the programme should be completely rolled out across England with about 100 screening centres.

The approval from the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme National Office will result in the creation of the Bristol & Weston Bowel Cancer Screening Centre a joint venture between UH Bristol, Weston Area Health Trust and North Bristol NHS Trust.  The Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI) will fulfil the role of Lead Centre and will be the base for the core team.   Mr Paul Sylvester, UH Bristol Consultant Colorectal Surgeon, has been appointed as Clinical Director for the Screening Centre and three Specialist Screening Practitioners have also been appointed to help him run the programme. 

The Bristol and Weston Bowel Cancer Screening Programme is a fantastic opportunity for the 60 - 69 age group in and around Bristol and Weston as it will save lives from this very common and very treatable condition.  I am excited to be leading the work in this area, said Paul Sylvester, UH Bristol Consultant Colorectal Surgeon.

The programme offers screening every two years to the 60 to 69 age group. Over the next two years, they will receive an invitation at home to be part of the programme.  Once you receive a letter, you will also receive a home test kit which is easy to use and you can use it in the privacy of your own home, added Paul. Once youve taken the samples, return the kit to be analysed and you will be contacted if there is any need to see you.

The home test kit does not detect bowel cancer but it detects tiny amounts of blood in stool samples which can indicate an abnormal growth in the bowel. The test is called the faecal occult blood test, occult meaning hidden.

In most cases, the test results will come back as normal. If this is the case, you will be invited back in two years time. However, an abnormal test result does not mean that bowel cancer is present and may indicate another growth called a polyp in the bowel. An abnormal test result will therefore need further investigation, including potentially a colonoscopy (investigation of the bowel). Anyone with an abnormal test result will be offered an appointment to see one of the screening nurses and discuss the colonoscopy procedure.

Colonoscopies will be performed initially at the BRI and then extended to North Bristol NHS Trust and Weston General Hospital locations. Where cancer is found, the individual will be referred for treatment at their local hospital as needed.  Where a polyp (a non-cancerous bowel growth, some of which can become cancer over many years) is found, the individual will transfer to colonoscopy surveillance within the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme.