We hope that through the breadth of ‘Health Matters - Improving the prevention and detection of bowel cancer’ content, we have made the case for investment of time and money, but a question may remain; what tools and resources are available to support professionals in making an impact?
There are a number of ways local authorities, clinicians and commissioners can address bowel cancer in their area.
Commissioning behavioural and lifestyle services
Local authorities are best-placed to determine which combination of initiatives across education, housing, planning and healthcare will deliver the most impact, and which should be led through workplace health and wellbeing initiatives.
We know that around 1/3 of cancers are caused by smoking, diet, alcohol and obesity - visit GOV.UK for information on reducing smoking, reducing obesity and improving diet and on reducing harmful drinking.
Support Be Clear on Cancer
The Be Clear on Cancer campaign raises awareness of the symptoms of bowel cancer and encourages people who have the key symptoms to go to their doctor without delay. You can get information and resources from the dedicated Be Clear on Cancer website, with a wide range of resources on all PHE campaigns available via our campaign resource centre.
Promote good health in mid-life
The One You campaign supports adults to improve lifestyle behaviours and reduce their risk of developing diseases like bowel cancer. A range of personalised tools are available via the How Are You online quiz, which has been completed by over 1 million people since it launched in March 2016.
Working with hard to reach groups
Screening should be delivered in a way which addresses local health inequalities, tailoring and targeting interventions when necessary. We have produced guidance setting out tips for overcoming general barriers to accessing screening.
PHE’s Fingertips tool provides cancer services data at GP and CCG level to inform commissioning decisions including data on cancer screening, two week wait referrals, diagnostic services along with emergency presentations and admissions.
Resources for GPs
GPs are not routinely involved in the bowel cancer screening programme because the test is done at home and this lack of involvement can discourage some people from taking part.
The Royal College of General Practitioners has developed a 30 minute online course which highlights the importance of the GP's role in the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme. In addition, CRUK has produced a GP letter template to promote bowel screening that can be customised by practices to send to their patients. It has been found that it is better if the endorsement letter is signed by the patient’s own GP rather than by the more impersonal ‘on behalf of the practice’.
The updated NICE guideline on suspected cancer referral aims to support GPs to recognise the signs and symptoms of 37 different cancers, including bowel cancer, and refer people for the right tests faster.
Health Matters is a resource for professionals which brings together the latest data and evidence, makes the case for effective public health interventions and highlights tools and resources that can facilitate local or national action. Visit the Health Matters area of GOV.UK or sign up to receive the latest updates through our e-bulletin. If you found this blog helpful, please view other Health Matters blogs.