Four in ten people in parts of Hampshire are ignoring the potentially life-saving bowel cancer screening tests, a charity warned today.
But the figures announced by Bowel Cancer UK are better in the two areas covered by Fareham and Gosport and South Eastern Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), where the percentage of people taking up the test is 66% and 64% - putting them both in the top five areas across Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and Thames Valley.
The NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme can detect bowel cancer at an early stage in people with no symptoms when it is easier to treat and there is a greater chance of survival.
Nearly 42,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year in the UK and more than 16,000 people die from the disease.
Dr David Chilvers, a local GP and the clinical lead for F&G CCG, said: “Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in our country – but it shouldn’t be as it is treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early.
“Screening undoubtedly can and does help save lives.”
If you’re registered with a GP and aged 60-74, you will receive a test in the post every two years. You carry out the simple test at home in private and it comes with step by step instructions. The test looks for hidden blood in your poo, which could be an early sign of bowel cancer.
Dr Chilvers said: “We would obviously encourage everyone who is over 60 to take the test – and for younger people to encourage their relatives and loved-ones over 60 to complete it. Taking part in screening is the best way to get diagnosed early, when treatment is more likely to be successful.
“It is obviously pleasing that the take-up rates in Fareham and Gosport and South Eastern Hampshire are higher than most other areas of Hampshire, but we all need to work harder to get those figures much nearer the 100% if we can.”