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Bowel Screening

Views of the service and messages to others

People who took part in the bowel cancer screening programme were very enthusiastic about every aspect of the service. Those who had a 'normal' result liked being reassured and those who were diagnosed with bowel cancer recognised that early diagnosis had prevented the spread of cancer in the body and might have saved their lives. Some knew that other countries do not have a bowel screening programme and felt lucky that has been introduced in the UK.

 

He is sure that early diagnosis prevented his cancer from spreading and is now convinced that...

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Age at interview: 67
Sex: Male
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Life's pretty good now. I think having gone through it I've been a lucky one because the screening picked up on something that could have developed into a much worse situation. Early diagnosis has got to be the reason I recovered so well. If it had gone on and it had spread into other parts of my body, I certainly wouldn't have been able to have recovered quite as quickly.

So what's your view in general about the National Screening Service?

It's got to be the way forward for everything. I mean it has worked for ladies with mammograms and other forms of screening. It's got to, whatever you can get early detection I think that it will be the way forward for curing cancer.

 

The treatment she received was 'first class.' She thinks that screening and early diagnosis...

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Age at interview: 66
Sex: Female
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But I think, with the treatment and the care I had, I mean it was first class. And they were all so kind, everybody, even down to the, to the nurse that's just put a needle in my hand, they were all so, so good, they really were. And I would say, you're going to be scared, and you don't want to do it, but I think it is a very wise thing to do in the end of the day. Because if there is anything wrong, like there was with me, that I didn't know anything about, anything being wrong, it really saved my life, or me having a big operation or a colostomy bag. You know, in short, it's what its really done for me, it has saved me and then I'm here for my family, and you know, because we did tell the, we told the children. I think I told the children after, after I'd been, the second one, and that was abnormal, and they were all worried and everything, which they're going to be, and then I came back and told them everything was alright, and it was wonderful to be able to tell them that everything was alright, you know. That was really nice.

 

He thinks that screening is a “brilliant concept” and that if his grandfather had been screened...

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Age at interview: 61
Sex: Male
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So what's your view of the national screening programme now?

My view of the national screening is it's absolutely a brilliant concept because years ago when, I mean cancers have been about for years but unfortunately my grandfather and my father, or my grandfather particularly never had this you know to go at in those days. If he had done, if they'd been around then, if the screening had been around then he'd been in a lot, he'd have been here a lot more years than what he was, without a doubt. So it's absolutely brilliant and please if you are 60 or over go for it, have it done, get checked out.

So your message to other people?

My message to other people is what have you go to lose? You've got lots to gain by having this test done so please get it done.

A man who had polyps removed said that he could not fault the system. Everything that had happened to him during the screening process had been 'superb'. He said that the nurses were 'brilliant' and that he had never once felt embarrassed. He encourages others to take part in screening.

 

He recommends screening for bowel cancer for anyone 'of a certain age' because early diagnosis...

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Age at interview: 65
Sex: Male
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Have you got anything else you'd like to add about screening for bowel cancer that we haven't mentioned?

No, not really, I can't fault the system from start to, from when it landed, came through the letter box, landed on the mat, until I got the clearance and I was told I was ok, everything that happened was superb, excellent. Everybody's so nice, you know, nurses sat with me one to one and spoke to me, friendly and, it was just brilliant. I never once felt embarrassed. I mean the nurses, needless to say were all girls, ladies, and I thought before I went in, I thought I'm going to lie there with someone shoving something up my bottom, and there are going to be nurses there' but I didn't think about it, it just didn't enter my head, and having been in with testicular cancer, well been there, done it, you know what I mean.

It's necessary, women go in to have their breasts looked at to check for breast cancer, you know. If you've got a problem with your waterworks then you've got to have your willy looked at, and if you have problems with the other side, you've got to have that looked at, so, go for it. Live Longer.

So I can only recommend this to anybody and everybody of a certain age group. If it applies to you, don't throw it in the bin and think, I'm not going to mess with that, ooh it's this, ooh it's that. Look, if you've got problems with your willy you take a urine sample to your doctor, you don't even think about it, it's normal, it's natural. Why on earth, if you've got a problem with our back passage, or we think we might have a problem, we can't do the sample of that, I don't know, I guess because it's more unpleasant. All I can say is, it's over, it doesn't take long, the outcome is well worth knowing about, and if you do at this early stage and there is a problem, the odds are, overwhelmingly, that you could be cured. I recommend it, everybody.

So have you got any message for other people finally?

Get it done. Get it done now while you're feeling fit and well, don't wait, you know, who knows, by the time you start to get the full symptoms, I'm not saying it's the end of the world, but you certainly probably going to have an operation. You go there, can you imagine what it's like dancing around the room because you've been told you haven't got it. You've got no trace of it. And the odds are that's exactly what they are going to say to you. Yes, it just makes sense. Think about your, your daughters, and your wives, changing babies nappies, they've got that stuff around them all the day, all the time, and they get on with it, because it's necessary. What I'm saying is it's necessary for you just for a short period of time, to get involved with that messy side yourself. Then it's done and over.

Many other people said that they were most impressed by the coordination, efficiency and teamwork involved in the national bowel cancer screening programme. This man, for example, said that staff involved in screening were kind, helpful, easy to talk to and very efficient. 

 

He was 'hugely impressed' by the specialist screening practitioners. All the members of the team...

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Age at interview: 65
Sex: Male
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So looking back what's your general view of the National Screening Service?

Well I'm hugely impressed. I think that the whole team and you know without mentioning names I think they're excellent. I think they were, they were helpful, kind, easy to talk to and very efficient. I was in very, I mean being an ex-solider one goes for efficiency and you know the whole thing was prepared properly, the actual execution was good and the recovery was good, I congratulate the team. I don't think I can complain in any way, and the way I was greeted and looked after and I felt it wasn't a chore, they were doing it and they were all interested in what was going on, I was hugely impressed.

That's very good. Do you have any unanswered questions about it all?

Not at all [laughs].

And do you have any message for other people?

Ah I think the message is that if it's on offer and this is what they've decided please do it because at the end of the day if you, if you an prevent yourself getting bowel cancer you're actually taking the strain off the NHS aren't you really because that's one less done. If you get bowel cancer then it's a much longer treatment, it must be, therefore it's much more, it's a call on resources isn't it. If you can, a simple test like that which ready, was very, very as I say very quick and efficient, you've, I prevented that haven't I and we've saved the nation money. I mean that's my view.

 

His involvement in the screening programme was a positive experience.

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Age at interview: 68
Sex: Male
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I'm just very grateful for the screening programme; anything that helps the health of the nation and this, and if this picks up cancer at a stage that makes it more treatable, that can only be a good thing. My experience of the programme was a very good and positive experience and I would certainly encourage anybody if they're invited to take part then to respond and take advantage of the investigation, yes.

Some people were convinced that the screening programme had not only saved their lives but that it must be cost effective. Others said they were lucky to have had screening.

 

The surgeon told him that if he hadn't taken part in screening the cancer would have spread and...

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Age at interview: 67
Sex: Male
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So looking back, what's your view of the whole national screening programme?

Husband' Well I think it's wonderful. It's a wonderful thing for, it must be saving the country a lot of money really. In a way. Although its costing a bit, but the outcome of it is that you're saving the country money, because if people develop bowel cancer, the after care is going to cost more than what the operation would itself.

And can you say again what your surgeon said that if you hadn't been screened, what would have happened?

Husband' Well the surgeon told me bluntly that if I hadn't been screened, that in another six to twelve months down the line, it would have been into the rest of my body and the outcome of that would've been very bad.

So for you it was a good thing you went ahead and were screened.

Husband' Yes, wonderful really. I've got no complaints about it whatsoever. It's probably one of the best things that has happened to me really. 

 

She thinks she is lucky to have been able to take part in screening.

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Age at interview: 70
Sex: Female
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So what's your general view of the national screening service, having been invited twice for screening now?

I'm very happy with it. It's one of those things that it's not very pleasant to do but the outcome is well worth it, and I think we're very lucky to be able to have it.

Some people thought that screening for bowel cancer ought to be available for those under 60 as it is in Scotland (Scottish Bowel Screening Programme). In England people aged 74 and over can ask, to be screened for bowel cancer by calling the programmes Freephone helpline 0800 707 60 60. 

 

Thinks that screening ought to be available to everyone, including younger people.

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Age at interview: 63
Sex: Female
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So what's your view in general about the National Screening Service for Bowel Cancer?

I think it is a excellent thing. I think it should be open and offered to everybody. I don't think age. I know age comes into it but I, I think they say that statistically it comes between a certain age. But I think these days and the way our life is today I think the age has got to come down because there are a lot of people, are younger people are now becoming to have bowel cancer. 

 
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He thinks that the screening programme pilot is very useful.

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Age at interview: 61
Sex: Male
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So summing up what's your view of the national, of the screening programme?

I think in summary it's a very, very useful programme and I hope it will be extended over the whole country* and I think there maybe the possibility for similar programmes to enter different fields of healthcare, and the more and more general screening programmes there are the better, preventative medicine is far better than curative medicine.

And have you got any message for other people who may be wondering whether or not to take part in the screening?

Well yes certainly, go and do it, because peace of mind that comes from knowing one is clear is very, very useful. It's good medicine.

 

* Since this interview the bowel screening pilot programme has been rolled out accross the country.

One woman said screening was a good idea because people might be more inclined to put a stool sample in the post than consult their GP about a bowel problem. Someone else suggested that the screening programme relieved pressure of work for the GPs.

 

He suggests screening for bowel cancer is money well spent and might reduce pressure of work for...

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Age at interview: 68
Sex: Male
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So what's your view in general about screening?

Oh it's got to, it's money well spent. That's one thing I'll give the government if the, you know it's one thing that is money that's well spent, on screening. It's, it puts a lot, don't put so much pressure on your GP if he, because he most likely gets the results of them anyway your GP, and then say right he's pretty well clear you know. They haven't got to worry having the patients coming in saying oh I think I've got this, I think I've got that and going through it all, go and see a specialist and that. The screening, straight forward, straight forward letter, do it, send it away, simple as that. No problems at all.

So have you got a message for people who might be looking at this and wondering whether or not to take part?

If you are thinking, thinking of not taking part in this screening, I think there must be sommat wrong with you because the way I look at it it's for your own benefit and it's for, it is your own benefit but also I think it's got to be in your mind you know if, if you don't want to take part, I just can't understand it because the actual screening is so simple, that even a child could do it. And I advise you if you get a chance for screening I'd advise anybody to have it done.

Many people wanted to encourage others to take part in screening for bowel cancer. They said that people 'have nothing to lose' by taking part, and that it gives people peace of mind. Several who had originally thought the process was a bit messy or awkward (including a woman who had arthritis and who found that taking part in screening was a 'bit of an ordeal' and 'a little inconvenient') still encouraged others to take part. Many others said that screening is a simple operation, nothing to be nervous about. One woman said that it was easy as long as you follow instructions.

 

Suggests that it is better to act sooner rather than later and that if he hadn't been screened...

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Age at interview: 68
Sex: Male
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And have you got any message for other people? Who might be wondering whether or not to take part in the screening for bowel cancer?

Well my message is, you must, you know it is better to act sooner, rather than later, in, you know everybody is aware of that. And, if you're able to be screened, take that opportunity. I'm so grateful that I did, because if I hadn't, if it hadn't have been done then, if they hadn't have picked it up in those early days, then I'd have had terrible consequences now.

We also sought the views of people who had opted out of the screening programme (Their views are covered in 'Why some were reluctant or did not take part'.)


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Last reviewed May 2016.
Last updated May 2016.

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