Claire Finlayson, Senior Health Promotion and Training Officer at Bowel Cancer UK
Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in Scotland. Annually more than 3,700 people are diagnosed and around 1,600 people die from the disease. However, bowel cancer is treatable and curable if diagnosed early.
Screening is the best way to detect bowel cancer early, but is underused by people with learning disabilities. Sadly, a review of bowel cancer in people with learning disabilities shows that frequency is “at least equivalent” to the general population and “it is possible that incidence is masked by difficulties in diagnosis”.
To achieve our goal of improving access to screening and disease reduction, Bowel Cancer UK has provided bespoke training (Supported by the Scottish Government’s Screening Inequalities Fund) for over 300 health and care professionals. The programme focuses on giving training participants the knowledge and confidence to provide person-centred support. We’ve had fantastic examples of participants working alongside people with learning disabilities, their families and carers to promote informed participation in screening.
Stacking the odds against bowel cancer
We know that lifestyle habits such as keeping active, eating healthily, reducing alcohol, and stopping smoking could prevent over half (54%) of all bowel cancers. Building on a person-centred approach, our training highlights evidence based prevention messages and emphasises the everyday role of health and care professionals. Although evaluation is ongoing, we have seen a 79% increase in knowledge of risk factors.
“I feel more confident when discussing good bowel health to people with learning disabilities and their support networks”.
Promoting informed choice through accessible information
It is important people are involved in making informed choices about their health. In addition to education, our training provides a range of information, including our popular resource pack produced in partnership with NHS Health Scotland.
“The accessible information available has enabled me to increase clients understanding of importance of screening and what it involves”
To find out more about Bowel Cancer UK, visit bowelcanceruk.org.uk or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.