Tackling bowel cancer in Yorkshire

Date: 03 April 2020

How you’re helping tackle bowel cancer in Yorkshire 

Every year, 3,500 people in Yorkshire are told they have bowel cancer. 

It’s the region’s fourth most common cancer – but if found early, it can often be treated successfully. 

Your support funds research across Yorkshire to help people lower their risk of bowel cancer and increase survival rates. 

Helping people take part in screening 

Since 2016, we’ve contacted more than 35,000 people in Yorkshire and the North East to encourage them to take part in screening. 

Screening helps find bowel cancer early, when it’s easier to treat. It can also help find and remove small growths in the bowel called ‘polyps’, which can turn into cancer over time.  

People aged 60-74 are asked to complete a home testing kit, which involves sending a poo sample to be analysed for tiny traces of blood. Blood can be a sign of bowel cancer, and the test detects samples that are too small to see. 

Just 6 in 10 people currently take part in bowel screening when invited, so we’re working with GP surgeries to identify people that haven’t returned their completed kit and try different ways to help them take part. 

From testing psychological methods to speaking to people in their preferred language, we aim to boost the number of people who are diagnosed early through screening. 

So far, nearly 3,500 people have completed their screening or requested a home testing kit as a result of our funding. 

We’re focusing on areas where screening participation is low, including parts of Bradford and Wakefield, but if successful, our programmes could be rolled out across Yorkshire.



Testing for Lynch syndrome 

We’re also helping identify people more at risk of bowel cancer.  

We’ve screened nearly 3,000 bowel cancer patients in Yorkshire for signs of an inherited genetic condition called ‘Lynch syndrome’ that can increase the risk of bowel cancer by up to 80%.  

An estimated 14,277 people living in Yorkshire have the genetic condition, but very few people know they have it. 

Patients diagnosed with Lynch syndrome can receive treatment tailored to their specific cancer type, and doctors can avoid giving unnecessary treatment because these patients are less likely to need chemotherapy after surgery. 

Family members of patients with Lynch syndrome can also be tested for the condition. If they test positive, they can access regular tests to find abnormal growths before they turn into cancer. This is especially important for people who are aged under 60 and don’t yet have access to the national screening programme. 

We’ve worked with NHS Trusts across the region to help make Lynch syndrome testing a key part of everyday practice. 


Treating cancer better  

Our experts are working hard to ensure everybody in Yorkshire receives gold-standard treatment. 

Your support is helping doctors and researchers find ways to improve bowel cancer survival through better quality surgery, radiology and pathology. 

They’re assessing differences in bowel cancer treatment across Yorkshire, learning where improvements can be made and providing personalised education programmes across the region to improve treatment. 

In the meantime, early diagnosis remains one of the best ways to save lives. It's really important to complete and return your bowel screening kit, and if you’re experiencing a symptom of bowel cancer, please contact your GP surgery as soon as you can.  

The main symptoms of bowel cancer are: 

  • a persistent change in bowel habit – going more often, with looser poo and sometimes tummy (abdominal) pain 
  • blood in poo without any other symptoms associated with having piles (haemorrhoids) – this makes it unlikely the cause is haemorrhoids 
  • abdominal pain, discomfort or bloating always brought on by eating – sometimes resulting in a reduction in the amount of food eaten and weight loss



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From supporting people to make lifestyle choices that reduce their risk of developing cancer, encouraging more people to take part in national cancer screening programmes, to finding the best treatments from across the globe and bringing them to Yorkshire, the charity is having a direct impact on the lives of people living in Yorkshire.

But we need more people to join us, to help make sure that people in the region have the best possible support and treatment.

We'd love you to be part of it.

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