March 27, 2008
Guildford-based Hub to screen 15 counties across the South Health Secretary Alan Johnson has today formally opened the Southern Hub of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Programme. The Guildford-based Hub serves a population of 13.4 million and is the largest of the five national Hubs. When the programme is complete, the Southern Hub will screen all people aged between 60 and 69, from Cornwall to Kent and up to Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire. The Southern Programme Hub began screening in September 2006 and is a partnership between the Royal Surrey County Hospital and the University of Surrey. Staff at the Hub will be sending screening invitations and test kits to 3,000 people a day and test returned samples and make follow up appointments for people with positive tests. Eventually the Hub will work with some 20 screening centres based in hospitals across the South of England. The Royal Surrey County Hospital has been a centre for prevention and treatment of bowel cancer for 25 years supported by the Guildford Undetected Tumour Screening charity GUTS. Director of the Southern Bowel Cancer Screening Hub Stephen Halloran said: “This important healthcare development illustrates the NHS at its very best. Bowel cancer needs to be detected early and this programme is doing just that. It is a great honour to have Mr Johnson join us to celebrate the vision, dedication and hard work that has brought the Southern Hub and the programme as a whole to fruition. Since September 2006 the hub has invited 140,000 people to participate and it has performed tests resulting in almost 900 positive results. “The national bowel cancer screening programme is still being rolled out. By April 2008 the Southern Hub will have implemented screening to a population approaching 6 million, and is on target for completion of the 60 – 69 year olds by the end of 2009.” The Hub is currently preparing invitation to people living in South Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, Solent and West Sussex, Somerset, and Cheltenham and Gloucester Berkshire for screening. In Autumn 2006 this will have been extended to include the local Surrey population. Health Secretary Alan Johnson said: ““I am pleased to be able to formally open England’s largest bowel cancer screening hub and see for myself the vital work that is carried out every day by staff working in the hub. This Hub alone is clearly making a difference with over 110 people already diagnosed with bowel cancer. “Screening plays a vital role in the prevention and early diagnosis of bowel cancer and saves lives. Millions of people across the country are already benefitting from bowel cancer screening and those found to have cancer will have a better chance of survival due to earlier diagnosis. Over the past 10 years major progress has been made on tackling cancer, but I want to see even more and would urge anyone invited to take the opportunity to be screened for bowel cancer.” Bowel cancer is currently the second most common cause of cancer deaths in the UK. Screening has the potential to reduce deaths from bowel cancer by 16 per cent in those invited for screening. Men and women aged between 60 and 69 are being invited to take part in the bowel cancer screening programme. They are sent a simple test kit to complete in the privacy of their home, which involves collecting a small sample from three separate bowel motions and, using a specially designed prepaid envelope, returning the kit to the laboratory for analysis. Those aged 70 and over are being encouraged to call a freephone helpline on 0800 707 60 60 and request a kit. The laboratory analyses the samples, looking for tiny traces of blood that may be invisible to the naked eye. The test does not diagnose bowel cancer but indicates whether further investigations are required. The NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme began in 2006 and it is anticipated that it will take about three years for screening to be phased in across England. Ends.
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