As April marks Bowel Cancer Awareness Month Victoria Prentis, MP for North Oxfordshire, is supporting a call by leading research charity Bowel Cancer UK, urging more people to take part in bowel cancer screening and help save lives.

Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in the UK, affecting both men and women. Every year over 41,000 people (one every 15 minutes) are diagnosed with bowel cancer, and 16,200 people die of the disease.

Bowel cancer screening can save lives but at the moment in some areas of the UK only a third of those who receive a test complete it. Thousands of people are missing out on the chance to detect bowel cancer early when it is easier to treat.

Victoria said, “Improving uptake rates for bowel cancer screening, both locally and nationally, is really important. I would urge my constituents who are sent a screening test to use it, as it is undoubtedly the best way to get diagnosed early. It was eye-opening to meet my constituent Joy Dansette at the end of last year, and to hear her story. While she had no symptoms, routine screening showed abnormalities which eventually led to a life-threatening cancer diagnosis. Owing to her decision to take the bowel screening test, and the efforts of the Horton General Hospital in Banbury and the John Radcliffe in Oxford, thankfully Joy was able to make a full recovery. Her experiences really demonstrated to me the importance of screening and early diagnosis.”

Deborah Alsina, Chief Executive of Bowel Cancer UK, said, “I’d like to thank Victoria for supporting our campaign during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month to raise participation levels for bowel cancer screening. One in 14 men and one in 19 women will be diagnosed with bowel cancer during their lifetime but it is treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early.”

The NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme (and its equivalent in each of the home nations) can detect bowel cancer at an early stage in people with no symptoms when it is easier to treat. Since its launch 10 years ago, it has been proven to save lives. If you’re registered with a GP and aged 60-74, you will receive a test in the post every two years. You carry out the simple test at home in private and it comes with step by step instructions. The test looks for hidden blood in your poo, which could be an early sign of bowel cancer.

Visit Bowel Cancer UK’s website to find out how you can get involved in their campaign for Bowel Cancer Awareness Month,