Tommy Walsh And Alan Titchmarsh Team Up With NHS For Bowel Cancer Awareness Campaign

TV presenters Tommy Walsh and Alan Titchmarsh have joined forces with the NHS to support a first-of-its-kind cancer awareness campaign.

In a new film discussing the importance of bowel cancer screening, the famous faces will urge those eligible to return their lifesaving bowel cancer screening home tests.

Recent data showed almost one-third (30%) of people do not return the potentially lifesaving tests.

Tommy Walsh And Alan Titchmarsh Answer The Questions

The film will be launched across NHS social media channels with Tommy and Alan answering questions – written on toilet roll – on how the NHS bowel cancer screening programme in England works.

The pair remark how the public “owes it to your family and yourself” to complete the quick test which can help detect the early signs of bowel cancer.

TV personality, Tommy Walsh said: “As a cancer survivor myself, I know how important diagnosing cancer early is. But I didn’t know that detecting bowel cancer at the earliest stage makes you up to nine times more likely to be successfully treated.

“So remember, if you are sent an NHS bowel cancer screening test, do it as soon as it arrives in the post! Put it by the loo, and don’t put it off.”

The video is part of the NHS “Help Us Help You” campaign, which tackles the fears surrounding a cancer diagnosis, and aims to get more men and women diagnosed at the earliest stage where bowel cancer survival is nine times higher.

Gardener and TV presenter, Alan Titchmarsh said: “We know the earlier you detect cancer, the far greater your chances of survival. That’s why this campaign is so important – the NHS bowel cancer screening test can detect signs of cancer even before you notice anything wrong.

“It’s quick to complete and if you do it at soon as it arrives, you can send it off the same day, and job done! I really urge everyone to do it – you owe it to your family, and you owe it to yourself.”

It follows a new survey that found nearly nine in 10 (89%) of eligible 56-74-year-olds would be likely to take a bowel cancer screening test if it could help find signs of cancer at an earlier stage, but one in five say they wouldn’t complete one because they would be too embarrassed to look at their poo.

NHS Wants To Dispel The Stigma

NHS chiefs want to dispel the stigma surrounding the test and increase uptake with a TV and radio campaign launched last month urging men and women who receive the test to “put it by the loo, don’t put it off.”

The NHS bowel cancer screening programme involves using a Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) kit, which detects small amounts of blood in poo – that would not be visible to people – before someone may notice anything is wrong.

A tiny sample of poo is collected using the plastic stick provided and is placed in a sample bottle before being sent back to the NHS, free of charge, for laboratory analysis.

More than half a million FIT kits are posted out each month to eligible people, who are automatically sent a kit every two years if they are registered with a GP practice and live in England.

NHS England is currently in the process of lowering the age of men and women that receive the test to include all over 50s by 2025, which the programme has already expanded to also include 56-year-olds and most 58-year-olds.

National Director of Screening and Vaccinations, Steve Russell, said: “It is fantastic to have Alan and Tommy shine a spotlight on our NHS bowel cancer screening programme and to use their star power to get the country to put the test by the loo and to not put it off.

“There is absolutely no need to feel embarrassed about poo and our survey shows most of us would be happy to take a screening test from the comfort of our own home to try to find early cancer, so I hope everyone who receives one of these quick and easy tests, completes it as soon as they can.”

45 People A Day Die From Bowel Cancer

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK, and the second biggest cancer killer.

Data shows 43,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year and 16,500 people die from it annually – around 45 people per day.

TV doctor Dr Sarah Jarvis, who is also supporting the campaign, said: “The campaign is all about encouraging those who are sent an NHS bowel cancer screening test in the post to complete it, so that we can detect bowel cancer at the earliest stage.

“It’s a big concern that almost one-third of people who were sent an NHS bowel cancer screening test in England last year did not go on to complete it. But it’s so vital that people don’t put off doing their bowel cancer screening tests if they receive them in the post, as your next poo could save your life.”

While bowel cancer screening is a great way to detect bowel cancer earlier, it is important to know what symptoms to look out for, which can include:

  • a persistent change in bowel habit such as pooing more often, with looser, runnier poo
  • blood in the poo
  • abdominal pain, discomfort or bloating always brought on by eating