HUNDREDS of Huddersfield people are to get a life-saving mail delivery.
Letters which could save lives are being sent to residents of Calderdale and Kirklees inviting them to take part in the area’s first bowel cancer screening service.
The programme is open to everyone aged 60-69 and the letter will explain how to complete testing kits, which will arrive about a week after the letters.
The tests are carried out at home and returned in a hygienically sealed prepaid envelope. The kits are then sent to a laboratory in Gateshead and results will usually be returned in about two weeks.
A normal result means no further tests are needed and the person will be invited to take part in screening again in two years’ time.
An unclear result means that the person will be asked to take the test up to two more times.
An abnormal result, where blood is found in the sample, does not mean there is a diagnosis of cancer, but it does mean further tests need to be carried out and a colonoscopy (bowel examination) will be offered.
Ashwin Verma, consultant and the centre’s clinical director, said: “The screening programme is a vital method of trying to increase the number of cases of bowel cancer detected at an early stage.
“If bowel cancer is picked up early there is a great chance of success in treating it – and even curing it.
“The vast majority of tests will come back normal and having an abnormal result does not mean it is definitely cancer, but it does mean that further checks are needed.”
Kathryn Aldous, centre manager, said: “More than 690 letters and kits will be mailed out every week over the next two years. Promoting awareness of the screening centre and bowel cancer is crucial to ensuring early detection and hopefully reducing the number of deaths from the disease.”
Loraine Turner, lead commissioner forŠNHS Kirklees, said: “Apart from the benefits of detecting bowel cancer in the early stages, the screening can also detect polyps.
“These are not cancers, but may develop into cancers over time. They can easily be removed, reducing the risk of bowel cancer developing.
“We are pleased to be commissioning this service for local people. Regular screening is one of the best ways to prevent deaths from cancer and I would urge anyone who receives a kit to use it.”
Bowel cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death with over 16,000 people dying from it each year. The screening test should pick up bowel cancer at an early stage, before symptoms even develop, when treatment is likely to be more effective.
For details ring 01422 222913.