Thursday, September 11, 2008

Bowel Cancer Screening

I joined tonight's meeting of the Montgomeryshire Community Health Council (CHC) as an observer. Person's responsible for developing a Bowel Screening Programme for Wales were presenting an update on progress. I'm interested in this subject.

At long last, it seems that we are finally getting there. Its anticipated that the screening programme will begin in October. Testing kits, which cost just 37p each will be sent out to all 60-69 year olds in Wales. The aim is to extend the age range to 74 in two years time, and eventually include everyone between 50-74. This is the first time that men are involved in a comprehensive screening programme. But I do wonder how many will join in. We men are a bit funny about this sort of thing. It involves spreading a bit of what is delicately termed 'feacal matter' on the 37p card, and sending it back via the Royal Mail. I chuckled when Reg Taylor, an ex-postman, who is a member of the CHC, chipped in the opinion that he was glad that he'd retired! I believe that the 'marked cards' will b ein some sort of sealed envelope. The cards will be tested in a central lab to check for any signs of blood, not easily detected by the naked eye.

If there is blood, there will be follow up, involving a Specialist Screening Practitioner (SSP), who will conduct a phone call to assess whether the next stage is appropriate - a colonoscopy, which is a camera up the backside and around the bowel to search out any nasties. The reason all this is so important is that Bowel Cancer can be wholly curable - as long as its detected early enough. I do know this better than most.

This programme has been too long coming, but we want it to be a success.


Anonymous said...

Great idea, if it a saves one life a year it shall be worth it.
Why oh why do we not have more emphasis on screening and prevention?
Time and money I suppose.
Anything that helps however small is progress.

Glyn Davies said...

anon - If its only time and money, fair enough. But is it? Time - the programme is already up and running in England, and has been for some time. Secondly, I'm interested to know whether anti private sector ideology has played a part. The reason that the programme has been so delayed in Wales is a shortage of trained colonoscopists to do the follow up - at the same time as there is a private sector specialist state-of-the-art 'colonoscopy factory' called Nucleus in Newport which operates at 'tarrif' prices. It works mostly for English patients.