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Award-winning Oxford cancer screening programme expands service at the Horton

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An award-winning cancer screening programme in Oxfordshire will soon roll out bowel scope screening at the Horton General Hospital.

The Bowel Scope Screening test is a quick and easy method of screening currently being rolled out across Oxfordshire, and it is coming to the Horton General Hospital in December 2018.

All men and women aged 55 who are registered with a GP practice that has been attached to the Bowel Scope Screening programme will be invited automatically, with invitation letters arriving from October 2018.

Those aged between 56 and 59 whose GP practice is attached to the programme can also self-refer onto it.

The test takes 20 minutes and aims to prevent bowel cancer from developing by finding and removing any small bowel growths, called polyps, which could eventually turn into cancer.

Earlier this year, the Oxfordshire screening programme was praised for its excellent service and patient care by Public Health England, who especially commended the service for maintaining its 'two-week wait' cancer pathway for the past five years. The 'two-week wait' standard is the time between referral to the hospital following a positive screening, and receiving initial assessment for treatment.

"Bowel cancer is among the four most common cancers in the UK and remains the  second most common cause of cancer death worldwide. More than 41,500 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in the UK - that's equivalent to someone being diagnosed every 15 minutes," says Terry Tran-Nguyen, Oxfordshire Bowel Cancer Screening Programme Manager.

"Over half of these cases are preventable. Bowel cancer screening can help detect polyps which could eventually turn into cancer and identify bowel cancer at an early stage, when it's easier to treat.

"I'm really pleased the Bowel Scope Screening service is coming to the Horton - it means the service is locally accessible to those living in the north of the county.

"Bowel scope is an effective test at detecting and preventing bowel cancer, and we'd encourage people to take part. The early stages of bowel cancer are usually asymptomatic - people won't necessarily notice anything out of the ordinary and might not feel the need to attend. In the past year, we diagnosed five people with bowel cancer following their screening, and none of them had experienced any symptoms.

"Symptoms usually appear in the later stages of bowel cancer, which means the tumour could be larger in size or cancer could have spread to other parts of the body. Prognosis is much better if we detect bowel cancer in its early stages."

Endoscopy at the Horton

In November 2017, the upgraded Endoscopy department at the Horton General Hospital was accredited by the prestigious Joint Advisory Group (JAG) on Gasotrointestinal Endoscopy. JAG accreditation is a patient-centred scheme which is based on the principle of independent assessment against recognised national standards. It was developed for all endoscopy services across the UK in both the NHS and independent sectors.

This well-deserved national recognition is great news for patients and staff in the department. The Trust invested nearly £2.7 million in updating the facilities at the Horton General Hospital.  

Russell's story

Russell Leek turned 55 years old in 2017, and was invited for a Bowel Scope Screening. As a former Cancer Research Scientist of 26 years, he knew the importance of early detection and attended his screening appointment.

"At the time of my test, I didn't have any symptoms. I thought, at worst, that the test might find a few polyps that could be easily removed.

"As it turned out, the clinicians found a tumour - a 1 in 300 occurrence by all accounts. The news knocked me for six, and then the realisation dawned how lucky it was that it was caught that early. I went on to have several CT scans, and an operation was organised within six weeks. I had keyhole surgery to remove the tumour entirely, and then underwent chemotherapy.

"I've finished my treatment, and the oncologists think I'll live to a ripe old age. It makes me think of what would have happened if I'd ignored that letter - the tumour would have undoubtedly progressed and even begun to spread throughout my body. If I'd waited for symptoms to show, my prognosis could have been an awful lot worse - the screening saved my life. For that, I urge people to go to the screening. It could save their life, too - all for the sake of a quick appointment."

For more information please see the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme section of the Trust website.

Pictured: Professor James East (Clinical Director), Sue Williams (Lead Specialist Screening Practitioner), Terry Tran-Nguyen (Programme Manager).