News

More than a quarter of people ignore bowel cancer test results

Figures from an NHS trust show that more than two-fifths of people sent a test kit for bowel cancer did not use it, and more than a quarter offered appointments with a nurse specialist did not take up the offer.
Stool-Alamy.jpg

More than a quarter of people invited to see a specialist nurse about their bowel cancer tests did not take up the offer last year, according to an NHS trust.

Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has revealed the high proportion of people not using the home test kits they are sent and not attending hospital for further investigation.

Last year, 72,000 kits were sent out to people in south Essex aged 60 to 75. They were asked to provide a stool sample, which would then be sent to a laboratory to check for signs of blood.

But while the test can give a vital early indication of bowel cancer, the trust found that nearly half (43%) were not returned.

More than a quarter of people invited to see a specialist nurse about their bowel cancer tests did not take up the offer last year, according to an NHS trust. 


The home test kit for bowel cancer requires a stool sample, which is
then checked for signs of blood. Picture: Alamy

Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has revealed the high proportion of people not using the home test kits they are sent and not attending hospital for further investigation. 

Last year, 72,000 kits were sent out to people in south Essex aged 60 to 75. They were asked to provide a stool sample, which would then be sent to a laboratory to check for signs of blood.

But while the test can give a vital early indication of bowel cancer, the trust found that nearly half (43%) were not returned.

Early detection vital 

Of those that were sent back for analysis, 768 people were offered appointments with a trained nurse, known as a specialist screening practitioner, who would then discuss the stool sample results and arrange for a colonoscopy, if needed.

But of that number, more than a quarter of people (207) did not take up the invitation. 

Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in the UK, but nearly 98% of people survive for five years or more if it is detected at the earliest stage, according to charity Bowel Cancer UK. 

Only 7% of people survive for the same period if diagnosis comes at the latest stage.

Important test

Specialist nurses at Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are now urging people to take the test. 

Lead colorectal nurse specialist Tracy Denny said: 'It's very sad, but we do regularly meet bowel cancer patients with no symptoms who say, “I binned the first two test kits I was sent, and now I wish I hadn't”.'

She added that the test may not be pleasant, 'but it certainly beats getting cancer'.


In other news

Sign up to continue reading for FREE

OR

Subscribe for unlimited access

Enjoy 1 month's access for £1 and get:

  • Full access to nursing standard.com and the Nursing Standard app
  • Monthly digital edition
  • RCNi Portfolio and interactive CPD quizzes
  • RCNi Learning with 200+ evidence-based modules
  • 10 articles a month from any other RCNi journal

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs