ALL Isle of Man residents aged between 60 and 69 are to receive a self-test kit to screen for bowel cancer.
The estimated 8,500 residents in this age group will receive the kit by post from the Department of Health over the next two years.
Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in the developed world and about 25 people die from bowel cancer every year in the Isle of Man.
Dr Parameswaran Kishore, director of public health, believes the scheme has the potential to save up to five lives a year in the Isle of Man. Evidence suggests screening leads to early detection of bowel cancer, increasing chances of survival.
He said: ‘All those who receive a test kit need to do is follow the simple instructions in the pack which advise how to collect stool samples. These are then sent by the patient direct to the UK by normal post for screening.
‘Test results will be returned direct but if the test is positive, this does not necessarily mean that the person has cancer. Further assessment will determine the reason for the test being positive.’
On the cost of the scheme, Treasury Minister Anne Craine MHK said: ‘The Isle of Man Government and the Treasury will continue to give priority to health issues and seek to ensure that our population remains as healthy as possible.’
Symptoms of bowel cancer can include a pain or lump in the abdomen, blood from the bottom or a change in normal bowel habits lasting four weeks or more. Most people with these symptoms will not have bowel cancer, but a GP can conduct further tests.
Dr Kishore added: ‘I would encourage everyone who receives a test kit to participate in the programme. Please do not feel embarrassed or squeamish. This test could potentially save your life.’