We all know about the importance of regular health checks and yet we are very good at not getting checked when something feels wrong or chasing up NHS appointments.
I hold my hands up that I put off making appointments to see my GP and one problem that I keep meaning to get sorted, it has been bothering me for about a year now!
Recently the importance of regular health checks has become very real for us as a family.
In the UK people over the age of 60 are offered free Bowel Cancer Screening by a Faecal immunochemical test and this is automatically sent out.
Faecal immunochemical test
A new test kit called the faecal immunochemical test (FIT) was introduced in England in June 2019. This kit is now sent with all invitations for bowel cancer screening.
People eligible for bowel cancer screening get an invitation letter, along with an information leaflet explaining screening and its possible benefits and risks.
About a week later, the programme sends a FIT kit with instructions on how to use it at home. Results are sent out 2 weeks after the laboratory receives the completed kit.https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/bowel-cancer-screening/
My Mum is now 73, and please don’t tell her I told you that and her and her husband get these test kits sent out every two years.
Last year during lockdown Mum’s husband received his kit which he used and sent back, but Mum didn’t get one and like most of us, she just let it go thinking it would eventually arrive.
Her husband decided to not let it go and rang the free helpline 0800 707 60 60 and a kit was sent out!
A letter was received saying that Mum’s test had returned an abnormal result and that she would be sent an appointment to have a colonoscopy to check her bowels, and it can be that it is a Bowel Polyp and although these are not a cancer, they can turn into a cancer over time.
Mum went for her Colonoscopy appointment and the doctor said that he could see a couple of Polyps that were removed, but everything looked okay. It was only as the Colonoscope was being removed that he noticed something and told Mum that it was a small area of cancer.
It is Tuesday today and on Friday Mum is going into hospital to have surgery to remove a section of her bowel.
The Consultant is very optimistic and has said that no further treatment will be required and that it is a simple keyhole surgery and Mum won’t even be aware that a section of bowel has been removed.
Without Mum’s husband phoning up and getting that free bowel screening home test that had somehow slipped the net, things could have been very different by the time they did discover this cancer and either the surgery wouldn’t have been so straightforward or chemotherapy may have been needed or an even worse outcome!
The Home Screening Kit for bowel cancer is soon to be offered to the over 50s this year!