ONLY 60 per cent of people living in the east of England are taking advantage of a potentially life-saving bowel cancer screening test.

Figures from Public Health England for 2016/17 show the uptake rate for the North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group is just 59.5 per cent.

North Essex narrowly missed being in the bottom five clinical commissioning groups which include Southend (52 per cent), Thurrock (54 per cent), Basildon and Brentwood (58 per cent) while Mid Essex is one of the best with a 61 per cent uptake.

Bowel Cancer UK's chief executive, Deborah Alsina MBE, said: “It’s quite simple, bowel cancer screening saves lives.

"I would encourage everyone who’s over 60 to take the test, and for those who are younger to encourage their loved ones over 60 to complete it. It could save yours or your loved ones life."

Bowel cancer is the nation's second biggest cancer killer.

Almost 42,000 people are diagnosed with the disease each year and more than 16,000 people die from it.

If you are registered with a GP and aged between 60 and 74, you will receive a test in the post every two years.

The home test comes with step-by-step instructions and looks for hidden blood in your stools, which can be an early sign of bowel cancer.

Ms Alsina added: “Bowel Cancer UK joined with Beating Bowel Cancer to create a future where nobody dies of bowel cancer.

"We’re determined to save lives and improve the quality of life of everyone affected by the disease."

Harwich and Manningtree Standard:


Bowel cancer is treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early.

Nearly everyone survives bowel cancer if diagnosed at the earliest stage.

However this drops significantly as the disease develops. 

The symptoms of bowel cancer can include:

• Bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo

• A persistent and unexplained change in bowel habit

• Unexplained weight loss

• Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason

• A pain or lump in your tummy

Most people with these symptoms don’t have bowel cancer. Other health problems can cause similar symptoms.

If you have one or more of these, or if things just do not feel right, see your GP.