- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
Labour’s Mid and West Wales Assembly Members have joined the call for a new screening procedure to be introduced in Wales. The test could prevent a third of bowel cancers – saving thousands of families the agony of a cancer diagnosis.
Joyce Watson AM and Rebecca Evans AM, Labour’s Assembly team for Mid and West Wales, attended an event hosted by Cancer Research UK (Wednesday 25 May 2011) to help raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of bowel cancer and to hear about a new screening procedure that could prevent a third of bowel cancers. They walked through a giant inflatable colon, the first European inflatable model of a walk through replica of the human colon. The model is being used as an educational device on the importance of early diagnosis and treatment.
Flexisigmoidoscopy (Flexisig) is a new method of detecting and removing polyps before they develop into bowel cancer, potentially saving thousands of lives and reducing death rates by nearly half among those attending screening. Cancer Research UK now hope that the flexi-scope test will be incorporated into the existing bowel cancer screening programme in Wales.
Joyce Watson AM said: “Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in the UK after lung cancer. Many of us know someone with bowel cancer, so any test which can potentially save so many lives must be welcomed. We will write to the Health Minister to raise this issue.”
Rebecca Evans AM added: “I was impressed to find out that recent trial results of this method of detecting and removing polyps before they develop into bowel cancer showed that the number of cases of bowel cancer were cut by a third and deaths from the disease reduced by almost half (43 per cent) among those attending screening.”
The latest figures show around 2,000 new cases of bowel cancer are diagnosed each year in Wales and there are about 1,000 deaths from bowel cancer every year.
Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said ‘“Cancer Research UK helped to fund the 16-year trial which has resulted in ground-breaking research. Because it will prevent so many cancers, adding this test to the bowel screening programme will spare thousands of families the anxiety and suffering associated with a cancer diagnosis, while also saving the NHS money. Flexisig offers us a tremendous opportunity to push bowel cancer down the league table of cancer cases in Wales.”
Professor Alan Clarke, based at Cardiff University and director of the Cardiff Cancer Research UK Centre, met the AMs. He said: “We’ve done a lot of work on understanding how cancers, such as those of the bowel, develop and we are beginning to understand the genetics behind the disease.”
About 16,260 people died of bowel cancer in 2008 in the UK.