Online bowel cancer screening awareness programme open to Ballymena residents

Dessie Blackadder

Reporter:

Dessie Blackadder

A vital programme aimed at raising awareness of the importance of bowel screening is now available online to support the recent roll out of a new, simpler bowel cancer screening kit in Northern Ireland.

The Women’s Resource and Development Agency’s (WRDA) ground-breaking online screening awareness programme was originally developed to help tackle inequalities in the uptake of cancer screening as those living in deprived circumstances may be less likely to attend.

The programme is for both groups and individuals and can be accessed in three ways: through scheduled group Zoom sessions; through a pre-recorded webinar and through a short animated video. The aim is to raise awareness, explore and address fears surrounding bowel cancer screening and encourage people to use the new test kit when it is sent to them. The work is funded by the Public Health Agency (PHA).

Deirdre Quinn, WRDA Training Development Co-ordinator, said: “The online programme spreads the message of the importance of screening in finding bowel cancers early and in potentially saving lives. It also covers bowel cancer symptoms and advises anyone with those symptoms to contact their GP as soon as possible. We also explain the new, simpler test that the health service has recently introduced.”

The Northern Ireland Bowel Cancer Screening programme is open to men and women aged 60-74. Eligible individuals are posted out a test kit which they can complete at home in private. This screening test looks for small amounts of blood within an individual’s bowel motion. If blood is detected within the test, further investigations are recommended. The aim of bowel screening is to help find bowel cancer early, when it is easier to treat.

Dr Christine McKee from the Public Health Agency said: “The WRDA online resources are an excellent way of sharing important information about bowel cancer and reminding people who notice any concerning symptoms that they should contact their GP as soon as possible. Screening remains the best way we have of detecting bowel cancer at an early stage when treatment can be more effective. The resources also include information on how everyone can make individual changes to reduce their risk of bowel cancer.”

The WRDA is currently taking bookings for group sessions delivered on Zoom. Please contact Katherine.robertson@wrda.net to book.

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