Islanders who have their 60th birthday in 2013 will be the first to benefit from a one-off, painless test for bowel screening which could save lives.
From this month HSSD will start writing to men and women, who will reach the age of 60 in 2013, inviting them to take part in the Jersey Bowel Cancer Screening Programme. The new screening programme will offer a one-off Flexible-Sigmoidoscopy test (known as Flexi-Sig) to men and women during their 60th birthday year, as an initiative to reduce bowel cancer incidence and, in turn, deaths from bowel cancer in Jersey.
Just under £180,000 has been set aside to offer the screening programme, which is part funded by the charity Jersey Cancer Relief.
Speaking about the launch of the scheme, Dr Susan Turnbull, Medical Officer of Health and chair of the HSSD screening steering group, said: “Each year, around 20 people die in Jersey from bowel cancer. It is our second most common cause of cancer deaths. About 1 in 20 of us will develop bowel cancer in our lifetime and an average of 60 new cases occurs amongst islanders annually. We hope that the introduction of the Flexi Sig test in Jersey will lead to fewer people getting bowel cancer in the future”.
Flexi-Sig screening will be carried out by consultants Dr David Ng and Dr Moses Duku, in the Hospital’s Endoscopy Unit. Dr Ng said: “We have been trying for some years to get bowel screening introduced in Jersey and it was very helpful to us when, in March 2011, the UK National Screening Committee (NSC) recommended Flexi-Sig as a simple, safe and precise screening intervention. There are other bowel screening tests available, but the evidence shows that for jurisdictions not currently screening for bowel cancer, we can have the greatest impact in preventing cancer cases if we offer this test during people’s 60th birthday year”.
Dr Duku added “We have been liaising with colleagues in Guernsey who have been running a similar Flexi-Sig programme over the past year. The overwhelming feedback they received from those attending for the procedure has been very positive; with the vast majority saying they would recommend to their friends and family to take up an invitation to have the Flexi-Sig test. Dr Ng and I would encourage all 60 year olds who receive the invitation to respond back to our team so we can discuss the test in more detail, answer any questions you have and arrange an appointment”.
Dr Turnbull said “I am delighted this evidenced-based screening programme is going to start. Being able to screen for the pre-cursors to bowel cancer is an important Public Health measure”.
Islanders invited to have the test need to respond to the bowel screening clinic to inform the team if they wish to attend for screening.