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If you are a holder of a Spanish SIP card, aged between 50 and 70, you may have recently received an invitation (by post) to take part in a colon rectal cancer screening programme.

The initial letter explains more about the test and those wishing to participate are asked to pop the enclosed postcard into the post (no stamp needed).

The next stage is that you will receive a sample bottle, clear instructions on how to obtain the sample correctly, and a letter telling you where to deliver your sample to.

The test looks for fecal occult blood (FOB) in the specimen. The presence of FOB in a stool sample can be an early sign of bowel cancer.

The thought of providing a stool specimen may put a lot of people off, but before declining this test read on………

  • bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK
  • in 2013 around 23,000 cases of males in the UK were diagnosed
  • in 2013 around 18,200 cases of females in the UK were diagnosed
  • in 2012 around 16,200 people died of bowel cancer in the UK
  • worldwide, around 694,000 people were estimated to have died from bowel cancer in 2012 with mortality rates varying across the world

The good news for us living in Spain is that bowel cancer screening routinely starts at the age of 50, unlike in the UK when it is not until aged 60 that screening is routinely offered.

You should be aware that people who are ‘high risk’ should begin screening before the age of 50. You are considered to be high risk if:

  • you have history of inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis)
  • you have close relatives who have had colorectal disease or polyps before the age of 60
  • you have a family history of familial adenomatous polyposis or hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (speak to your family doctor if you are in doubt)

When diagnosed at the earliest stage more than 90% of people with bowel cancer will survive for 5 years or more compared with less than 10% of people when diagnosed at the latest stage.

So, don’t let embarrassment stop you from taking part in the bowel cancer screening programme!

Note: for those who are not SIP card holders the Family Medical Centre offers FOB screening for 24€

The Core Team

Dawn Blythe

Clinic Director, Practice Midwife

Yvonne Evans

Clinic Director, Nurse

Dr. An Croonenborghs

General Practitioner

Jane Evans