23 April 2013
More than 100 Islanders have now attended Jersey’s bowel cancer screening service since the launch of the new programme in January.
The free one-off test, known as flexible sigmoidoscopy (or Flexi-Sig) is offered to men and women during their 60th birthday year.
Of those who have attended since the programme started, 16 people have had polyps removed which could have developed into cancers, and all have said they would recommend the test to other eligible people.
Speaking about the scheme, Dr Linda Diggle, head of healthcare programmes at HSSD and a member of the screening steering group, said "Crucially, the early results demonstrate that the purpose of the programme is working, which is early detection and removal of polyps and that people are finding the test acceptable. Evidence tells us that age 60 is the optimum time for preventing bowel cancer by detecting polyps using the Flexi-Sig screening test. Once bowel polyps are removed, they cannot develop into bowel cancer.
"We are delighted that those who have come forward for the Flexi-Sig tests have given such good feedback about the service, which is testament to the high level of service which the endoscopy team is providing. It’s good that over 100 people have now had appointments, and we hope that if they talk about it, this will help spread reassurance to other people who are eligible for the test."
Free screening appointment
Since the launch of the service in January, over 450 letters have now been sent out inviting Islanders with 60th birthdays in 2013 to come for the free screening appointment at the hospital’s endoscopy unit. Islanders who attend are asked to provide feedback about the information and the service they received.
Bowel screening is a one-off, painless test which is expected to save lives and lead to fewer people developing bowel cancer in the future.
Dr Diggle added "Each year, around 20 people die in Jersey from bowel cancer. It is our second most common cause of cancer deaths. About one in 20 of us will develop bowel cancer in our lifetime and an average of 60 new cases occur among Islanders annually. Being able to screen for bowel polyps is an important public health measure."
Jersey Cancer Relief
Just under £180,000 was set aside annually to offer the screening programme, with support also being provided by the charity Jersey Cancer Relief.
The tests are carried out in the hospital’s Endoscopy Unit by consultants Dr David Ng and Dr Moses Duku and their screening team, and 20 Islanders are booked in for the tests each week. Jersey’s Public Health Department worked with the endoscopy team to set up the screening programme and is monitoring rates of bowel cancer, and its prevention, in Jersey.
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 evidence from other jurisdictions indicates that the greatest impact in preventing cancer cases will be by offering this test to Islanders during their sixtieth birthday year.