Thousands in Black Country and Staffordshire fail to take part in free cancer screening
Thousands of people in the Black Country and Staffordshire have missed out on potentially life-saving checks by not taking part in the free NHS bowel cancer screening programme, figures reveal.
Charity Bowel Cancer UK says more needs to be done to encourage people to take part in the test, which helps catch the deadly disease earlier and when it is more treatable.
People aged between 60 and 74 years in England are sent a home test for bowel cancer every two years. Participants send faeces samples off for testing, to look for traces of blood.
Figures from Public Health England show just 51.8 per cent of the 36,962 of 60 to 74 year olds registered with a GP in the Wolverhampton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) area had been screened for bowel cancer in the two and a half years to March 2019 – meaning 17,825 people were not covered.
Out of 61,771, a total of 31,908 people did not take up the test in the Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG area during the same time frame – while 21,513 out of 51,924 people eligible in the Dudley CCG area were not covered.
Just 56.4 per cent of people took the test in the Walsall CCG area, leaving 17,370 people not covered out of 39,806.
And in Staffordshire, 9,237 people out of 22,779 in the Cannock Chase CCG area and 9,894 people out of 27,065 in the Stafford and Surrounds CCG area had not taken up the test in the two-and-a-half years to March 2019.
Dr Lisa Wilde, director of research and external affairs at Bowel Cancer UK, said: "It is disappointing that uptake for bowel cancer screening still remains low in England.
"Taking part in screening is the best way to diagnose the disease early as it can detect the cancer at an early stage when it is easier to treat.
“Quite simply, taking part in bowel cancer screening could save your life and we would encourage anyone to complete the test when they receive it.”
Neill Bucktin, director of commissioning at Dudley CCG, said: "NHS bowel cancer screening is currently offered to everyone aged 60 to 74 who is registered with a GP. Patients in Dudley will automatically receive a screening kit in the post from the age of 60 years.
"This is a simple test which comes with step by step instructions that can be carried out at home, in private.
"As commissioners of this service we are committed to delivering the NHS Long Term Plans ambition to improve cancer diagnosis rates and survival rates for people in Dudley.
"Our advice to patients is to take up our NHS cancer screening invitations. Screening looks for early signs that could indicate cancer is developing. It helps to spot cancers at an early stage, when treatment is more likely to be successful and chances of survival are much better."