The fear of the unknown and the invasive nature of diagnosing bowel cancer

Many of us will know someone with Bowel cancer. That person may have experienced a few symptoms such as a change in bowel habits or vague symptoms such as tiredness and fatigue, perhaps they mentioned this to their doctor. This may have set off an alarm bell, or may have been considered harmless at the time, confused for an ailment that shares many of the same symptoms. On being picked up by the GP or perhaps from the stool sample following a 60th birthday, the individual may be sent for a colonoscopy to confirm diagnosis, an invasion procedure that in itself can cause personal distress.

And throughout this process time it ticking away, anxiety is building – the fear of the unknown. Can I make plans? Should I tell my family? Should I be worried? What will happen next?

Now imagine that at the GP surgery, the very first step in our scenario this individual has a simple blood test. The blood sample is analysed and provides an indication of bowel cancer or confirmation that no cancer is present.  Suddenly the waiting and additional worry is lifted. Yes, a diagnosis of cancer may still be given, but an early diagnosis provides greater treatment options and improved chances of a successful outcome. A negative diagnosis, means that other diseases can be considered and again appropriate treatment can be given.

This is the aim of scientists in Swansea University, who have had fantastic results with their preliminary research. In 2018 Prof Dean Harris and his team will trial the blood test in 20 GP surgeries in South Wales. We are still at the early stages, however this work has the potential to relieve unnecessary distress and provide better treatment options for those suffering with bowel cancer.

Bowel cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in Wales. We are a small nation, so statistically I know as I write this, that those reading this message are extremely likely to know someone who is suffering with bowel cancer or who has sadly passed away from the disease. This is why we are so committed to investing in this essential project.

And it is our supporters who have enabled this work to take place.

In January 2018 the next stage of this project will begin at a cost of £350,000. We are incredibly grateful to our friends at Poundland who are contributing £161,000 towards this total.

The exceptionally generous donation given to Cancer Research Wales by Poundland has been made up of the carrier bags charges at their stores throughout Wales. The small contribution of a few pence has created this truly outstanding sum. We are indebted to the staff and customers of Poundland for once again choosing to support Cancer Research Wales.

Every donation to Cancer Research Wales, whether large or small helps in the furtherance of our goals, this project shows how the efforts of individuals and organisations can make a true difference to the people of Wales.

Thank you to everyone who have supported our essential work. Your generosity means that we can fund world class research in Wales.

Best wishes,

Liz Andrews
Charity Director