If you are worried about bowel cancer, follow your instincts and get screened – BMI Albyn Hospital explains more about what’s involved.
Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in Scotland. Treatment is successful in 90% of cases if started early enough.
However, there are still many cases that go undiagnosed until it is too late, as individuals either do not spot the symptoms or feel embarrassed to go to their doctor.
Early diagnosis is the key to a successful outcome and this can be possible by performing a simple test.
What are the symptoms of bowel cancer?
If you have any of the following symptoms, you should see your doctor as soon as possible:
- Bleeding from your bottom
- Blood in your stool
- Any changes in your normal bowel movements that continue for three weeks or longer
- Sudden, unexplained weight loss
- Extreme tiredness
- Pain or mass that you can feel in your abdomen
It’s important to remember that having one or more of these symptoms does not automatically mean you have bowel cancer.
Try not to worry but do make an appointment with your doctor to investigate the symptoms further.
Don’t put off making that appointment as, if it is bowel cancer, the earlier you start treatment the more successful it is likely to be.
What does Bowel Screening involve?
Within Scotland, there is a bowel screening programme which enables all men and women between the ages of 50 and 74 years to undertake a simple test called a faecal immunochemical test (FIT).
This test helps to detect bowel abnormalities such as polyps, which can lead to bowel cancer, and early stage bowel cancer, which increases the likelihood of successful treatment.
The screening kit is sent every two years and it is the responsibility of the recipient to return this. For those who receive a positive FIT test, further testing is recommended with a colonoscopy.
What is a colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is a procedure that looks at the inside of your large bowel (colon) using a tiny camera. If the consultant finds anything of concern during the procedure, they can perform a biopsy (removing small pieces of tissue) to help make a diagnosis.
Sometimes a polyp (small growth) is the cause of the problem and the consultant may be able to remove it during the procedure.
Fast Access Bowel Screening Service
At BMI Albyn Hospital in Aberdeen, the designated bowel screening service provides fast assessment and diagnosis by a multi-disciplinary screening team, led by a team of accredited consultant bowel screeners, who undertake these procedures regularly in their practice.
This service caters for anyone who has already received a positive FIT test, has not returned their test or individuals under 50 who may have concerns and wish to discuss potential investigations.
The service starts with an appointment with one of the nursing team to assess suitability for a colonoscopy, and to discuss what the procedure will entail. If a colonoscopy is recommended, then the hospital can offer this within 14 days of your first appointment.
On the day of the procedure, the patient will meet one of the bowel screening consultants who will carry out the procedure, which will take approximately 45 minutes.
Thereafter the consultant will be able to discuss appropriate treatment plans depending on the results.
What do the Consultant Bowel Screeners think?
BMI Albyn’s consultant team explains: “Timely bowel cancer screening helps in saving lives by early diagnosis of polyps and cancer.
“If diagnosed early, up to 90% of bowel cancer can be successfully treated. Studies have shown that regular bowel screening reduces mortality from bowel cancer.”
Want to find out more?
If you are concerned about symptoms that you have or have received a positive FIT test and wish to find out more about the bowel screening service at BMI Albyn, please contact the hospital directly on 01224 577400 or email@example.com.
The hospital hopes to run an information evening about bowel screening in the near future. Look out for information on the hospital’s event page here.