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Bowel Cancer Screening launched in Spain

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€

Type 2 Diabetes

There are estimated to be millions of people with undiagnosed Diabetes, are you one of them?

Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high.

There are two main types of diabetes – type 1 and type 2.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin to maintain a normal blood glucose level, or the body is unable to use the insulin that is produced.

The pancreas (a large gland behind the stomach) produces the hormone insulin, which moves glucose from your blood into your cells where it is converted into energy.


The main symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes are very similar

The high blood sugar levels makes you:

  • Feel thirsty
  • Pass urine more often particularly at night
  • Feel tired all the time
  • Have unexplained weight loss
  • Have cuts or wounds that heal slowly
  • Have Itching around the penis or vagina, or frequent bouts of thrush
  • Have blurred vision which is caused by the lens becoming dry

The signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes are often mild and develop over a number of years and are therefore not as obvious. It is often diagnosed during a routine check-up. Untreated diabetes can damage your organs, so it’s important that it is diagnosed as early as possible.

Risk factors

Four of the main risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes are:

  • Age - being over 40. This may be because people tend to weigh more and exercise less as they get older.
  • Genetics – having a close relative with the condition (parent, brother or sister)
  • Weight – being overweight or obese. In particular, fat around the abdomen increases your risk. This is because it releases chemicals that can upset the body’s cardiovascular and metabolic systems.
  • Ethnicity – being of south Asian, Chinese, African-Caribbean or black African origin (even if born in europe)

Other risks

Your risk of developing type 2 diabetes is also increased if your blood glucose level is higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes.

This is sometimes called “pre-diabetes” or impaired fasting glycaemia (IFG) or impaired glucose tolerance (IGT).

If you are concerned that you might be at risk a simple blood test can check your blood sugar and relieve your mind. In February and March you can get your blood sugar checked for €5 instead of the normal cost of €20 at the Family Medical Centre Albir.

Article supplied by Yvonne Evans Family Medical Centre Albir

The Core Team

Dawn Blythe

Clinic Director, Practice Midwife

Yvonne Evans

Clinic Director, Nurse

Dr. An Croonenborghs

General Practitioner

Jane Evans