Health chiefs urge people in Leeds not to delay bowel cancer screening - as Deborah James's story touches the nation

Health chiefs in West Yorkshire have urged people not to delay bowel cancer screening with the clear warning that early diagnosis saves lives.

By Joanna Wardill
Monday, 23rd May 2022, 11:45 am

With Deborah James' bowel cancer story touching the nation, the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance is asking all those eligible to take up the offer of a bowel cancer screening.

While the region exceeds the national target for screenings, with a 68 per cent average response rate - eight per cent over target - health bosses say there is still more work to be done, to reach the remaining 32 per cent of people.

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The NHS 'FIT' kit, to screen for bowel cancer.

Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in the UK, with the latest NHS Digital figures showing that in Leeds alone, it accounted for the death of 190 people in 2019.

But it can be successfully treated in more than nine out of ten people if diagnosed at the earliest stage.

People aged 60 to 74 are invited to complete a Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) and return via the post every two years.

The FIT test identifies hidden blood in poo and can indicate potential bowel cancer which will then be further investigated.

File photo of Deborah James, pictured in 2019. Picture: PA

Nearly 43,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in the UK, with more than 2,600 new cases diagnosed annually in people under the age of 50.

Since receiving her bowel cancer diagnosis in 2016, Deborah James - under her social media name of Bowel Babe - has shared her journey and has campaigned tirelessly to raise awareness of the condition, including the signs and symptoms of bowel cancer to look out for. These include:

*Bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo

*A persistent and unexplained change in bowel habit

*Unexplained weight loss

*Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason

*A pain or lump in your tummy

The Cancer Alliance - a collection of a wide range of organisations involved in caring for and supporting those affected by cancer across our area, including the NHS and local councils - is encouraging people of all ages, regardless of the results of your FIT test, to contact your GP practice if you are experiencing the above signs and symptoms, to rule out or further investigate any causes for concern.

For more information on bowel cancer screening and signs and symptoms of bowel cancer visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/bowel-cancer-screening/.