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The SWL (South West London) Bowel Cancer Screening Centre

The SWL Bowel Cancer Screening Centre (BCSC) is located within the Endoscopy Unit, 1ST floor, St James Wing, St Georges University Hospital, Tooting, London.  It is responsible for delivering bowel cancer screening services to the following Primary Care Trusts: Croydon, Kingston, Merton, Richmond, Sutton and Wandsworth.

The screening centre team is comprised of the Director of Screening, Consultants and Endoscopists, a Programme Manager, a lead SSP(Specialist Screening Practitioner), a team of SSPs, a Health Improvement Specialist, and an administration support team.


Current FOBt Bowel Cancer Screening

  

Bowel cancer is a major health problem in England – it is the second leading cause of cancer death.

The current national bowel cancer screening programme is offered to all men and women aged between 60 and 75.  It uses a home based stool test to detect the presence of blood in stools – this is known as the faecal occult blood test (FOBt).  IN England, the FOBt involves smearing 2 small samples of poo onto a special screening card, on 3 separate occasions, over a 2 week period.

A positive test may indicate the presence of bowel cancer, and will automatically generate a referral to the Screening Centre.  The option for further investigations is then discussed in an SSP clinic, and most patients are offered a colonoscopy.  Approximately 1 in 10 of those referred for investigations have bowel cancer identified.

Screening aims to detect bowel cancer at an earlier stage, so that treatment is more likely to be successful.  Screening can also help to prevent the development of bowel cancer by leading to the removal of pre-cancerous growths in the bowel called polyps.

A new test called Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) will be introduced across England from summer 2018 to replace the FOBt, this will require only one poo sample and will be easier to use.


National Bowel Scope screening at age 55

The Bowel Scope Screening (BOSS) programme runs concurrently with, and is complementary to, the current FOBt programme.  This is a new type of bowel cancer screening that is gradually being rolled out across London.

Bowel scope screening is also known as a ‘flexible sigmoidoscopy’.  It is a one-off endoscopic examination of the lower part of the large bowel, offered to all men and women at the age of 55, who are registered with a GP.  It takes around ten minutes and is not painful, but some patients find it uncomfortable.

The Bowel Scope screening examination allows any polyps that are detected to be removed before they have a chance to develop into a bowel cancer.  It is estimated that by the age of 50, about 1 in 4 of the UK population will have at least one polyp.  By removing these polyps, it is anticipated that future levels of bowel cancer will decline.

The first BOSS invites were sent out to the population of Wandsworth in 2014 to attend for BOSS screening at St George’s Hospital.  In 2015, the population of Richmond was invited to attend Queen Mary’s Hospital, Roehampton, and in 2017 the Sutton population were invited to attend Epsom Hospital.  It is anticipated that BOSS screening will have fully rolled-out across Kingston, Croydon and Merton by the end of 2020.

This preventative programme is based on a UK study of population-based flexible sigmoidoscopy screening, which reduced the incidence of bowel cancer by 33% and mortality from bowel cancer by up to 43%.

Dr Gareth Sadler, Consultant Gastroenterologist and Director of SWL Bowel Cancer Screening at St Georges’ NHS Trust, said:

“Bowel cancer is the second leading cause of all cancer deaths in the UK, but if caught early, treatment can be more effective and deaths can be reduced.

 

The bowel scope programme helps to identify the presence of polyps in the bowel.  Over time, if left untreated, these can develop into bowel cancer.  Removing polyps during bowel scope screening can help prevent bowel cancer developing.

 

Many people find anything to do with their bowel embarrassing and this makes them reluctant to have screening.  However it is very important and I would encourage everyone who is invited to come for their appointment, it could save their life.”

 

For further information about both Bowel Screening Programmes, please ring the bowel screening free phone helpline on 0800 707 60 60.


Further online resources are available on;

  1. NHS Choices
  1. NHS bowel cancer screening programme
  1. A pictorial leaflet is available on the Bowel Cancer UK website
  1. St Mark’s Hospital, North West London Bowel Cancer Screening Centre, have developed a good site for the people in their area about Bowel Scope which you may find useful.